1. First thing to do is to identify just who this “AP1000 Oversight Group” is. It’s not some governmental panel, nor is it some utility commissioned panel. From a paper sent to the NRC to get the NRC to stop licensing of the AP1000 we find this identifying statement:

    “The AP1000 Oversight Group consists of the Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability
    Team, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Citizens Allied for Safe Energy,
    Friends of the Earth, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, Green Party of
    Florida, Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation, NC WARN, Nuclear Information
    and Resource Service, Nuclear Watch South, SC Chapter – Sierra Club, and Southern
    Alliance for Clean Energy. These public interest groups represent citizens throughout
    the Southeast, where the AP1000 reactors have been proposed.”

    Some of those names should be no surprise in this. I think it’s important to know who is behind getting Gunderson to speak up on their behalf.

  2. I’ll critique Gumderson later today. Just wanted to comment on the cited NRC Task Force’s report and their lame excuse for the absurd #4 SPF fiasco. Literally, the NRC made their ridiculous speculations of SPF fire, etc. in March based on nothing. They had no idea what was going on, so they did the anti-nuke thing and created a fairy tale. Anyone with factual knowledge of SPFs would never have made such asses out of themselves! Many commentors here have said our NRC has become an anti-nuke agency. I’ll throw my hat into that ring any time.

      1. Rod – Why should he apologize? He’s just doing his job — not for the Commission, mind you, but for the influential politicians who managed to get him to the top position in the NRC.

        I’m sure that they’re rather pleased with his performance.

        1. @Brian – I realize I am a hopeless idealist, but I always considered that I was working for the taxpayers when I received a government paycheck. Come to think of it, since I am on a retainer as a retired Commander, I guess I still do.

        2. Rod – I’m sure that you worked for “politicians” within the military hierarchy, but how many real politicians have you worked for? 😉

          That comprises Jaczko’s entire work experience prior to his appointment to the NRC. I don’t expect him to be an idealist.

  3. Rod, you are doing the right thing. There simply can be no let up on the needed examination of those tribunes of the anti-nuclear movement who would have all living like Hobbit’s a mythical organic Shire in never-never-land.

    We expect a good report when you get back from DC on the SMRs.

    Leslie, I look forward to your keen eye on the Gundersen Kiddy’s Book of Fantasies later today!

  4. I’m open for debate on the issues going around Fukushima. I can see that he got several issues wrong like the fast track, aircraft protection but you also get some facts wrong.

    Looking at the current release of information from Tepco and the Japanese government I wouldn’t considering them to be a reliable source of information for now. It seems like they are slowly releasing information to prevent further damage to the economy of people’s health eg stress.

    There was a large possibility that Corium had melted through the bottom of the reactors which seems to be confirmed now but the depth is being debated. Tepco’s number seems very conservative for Corium going through concrete imo.

    You don’t tackle the evidence that the #3 explosion caused more damage around the fuel pool than anywhere else in the building. You don’t mention how fuel fragments are laying on the ground around reactor three.

    I wouldn’t assume what has happened in Japan until some reliable people can actually explore inside all the reactor buildings.

    I’m not making any assumptions that it was a Hydrogen explosion at unit three until information going against it has been dealt with.

    First thing to do is to make sure your source is reliable, Tepco and the Government have been far to conservative and closed about Fukushima. Number changing, false predictions, leaving out important information is not signs of a reliable source.

    1. NEI has stated that what is being reported about the “melt through” of “corium” is in fact a very conservative mathematical analysis of what MAY have happened in this event. It has not been confirmed by any physical measurements or in situ inspection. This is as of this writing. That is not to say that there has not been sigtnificant release of core materials from the PV. It has been known for some time that BWR pressure vessels have a vulnerability to release of melted materials at the instrument tube penetrations. That could indeed have happened. But as to how significant a release there was, and how many more feet of containment are really in place between any core material and the external environment, no one knows at this point. I’m treating it all as speculation until someone with some measure of credibility actually gets a look-see at what is really there.

    2. @Gaffney – if you do not believe Tepco or the Japanese government – the only organizations with any access at all to the information required, who do you believe?

      The area around the fuel pool was the most damaged because that is where the H2 gathered.

      The simulations are showing that Corium does not travel all that far through steel reinforced concrete. The actual investigations at TMI II show that it does not travel far through steel, either. The maximum depth of penetration there was only 5/8ths of an inch.

      There was a lot of material remaining between the corium and the environment. The containment worked by failing gracefully but keeping the VAST majority of the radioactive material from entering the environment. No one was even hurt, much less killed by radioactive material released in this way beyond design basis event.

    3. Gaffney, you seem to be stating as fact, that which is either not true or just pure conjecture so I wonder who you are and what your biases might be. I would also like to make contributors to this discussion who might not know me or my concerns about the veracity of anything that the Gundersen PR machine puts out aware of the audio from Gundersen’s invited call-in to the Pat Thurston KGO San Francisco radio program and partial transcripts that I have prepared. They are at http://archive.org/details/ArnieGundersenOnKgoRadioPatThurstonProgram

  5. Here is the first thing wrong with Gundersen’s remarks that I heard. He said (at about the 2:10 mark) that the containment water storage tank will last “between 2 and 3 days”, and then it will need to be replenished.

    It will not be “between 2 and 3 days”. It will be 3 days. There is another ancillary water storage tank that can refill the main tank to provide another 4 days of cooling. But this ancillary tank is not absolutely needed. The AP1000 brochure says:

    “The water tank has sufficient capacity for three days of operation, after which time the tank could be refilled, most likely from the ancillary water storage tank. If the water is not replenished after three days, the containment pressure will increase, but the peak pressure is calculated to reach only 90 percent of design pressure. After three days, air cooling alone is sufficient to remove decay heat.”

    So the design basis is 3 days of water flow from from the containment water cooling tank, and after that air cooling is all that is needed. Replenishing the main tank is a ‘nice to have’, but not a ‘need to have’, at least according to the Westinghouse brochure.

    There are of course several other things Gundersen got wrong in this video. Time permitting, I can address some of these.

  6. I’m sorry, but he measures pressure in “pounds”?!

    Gee, Arnie, it has been a while since you’ve been to engineering school, hasn’t it?

    I love how Arnie talks about Fairwinds as if it is some organization other than just himself. I guess he thinks that it gives him more credibility.

  7. Here is one more error. Gundersen says at the 9:00 mark that the water tank is not designed for an aircraft impact. This is wrong. Revision 17 of the Design Control Document specifically addresses 10CFR 50.150 dealing with large aircraft impacts.


    From the pdf:
    “The AP1000 Aircraft Impact Assessment is detailed in Technical Report APP-GW-GLR-126 (Reference 1). The assessment concludes that AP1000 can continue to provide adequate protection of the public health and safety with respect to aircraft impact as defined by the NRC. The aircraft impact would not inhibit AP1000’s core cooling capability, containment integrity, spent fuel pool integrity, or adequate spent fuel cooling based on best estimate calculations.”

  8. As a Ron Paul Libertarian voter & advocate, Small Modular Reactor (MR) marketer and a nuclear space power and propulsion writer I really don’t have a dog in this fight.
    The problem with Big Gov’t Industrialized countries like the U.S. with respect to sane energy policy and a central role for its domestic nuclear industry controlled by huge Gov’t and crony Big nuke business is it’s akin to a Hen House with a bunch of Hens all clucking to the same tune at the same time.

    It’s a total mess.

    Naturally designs, architectures and nuke fuel use in big LWR or in CANDU HWR DOMINATE the freakin’ landscape in North American and since the early days of a few isolated NPP nuclear incidences have spawned a large public following for inaccurate cuckoo nut anti-nuclear lobbies that preaches green solutions in primitivism or hydrocarbon remedies that burden huge expenses on electricity taxpayer/ratepayer from mega big public utilities who shackle their ratepaying public preventing ratepayers from shopping around the grid for cheaper power.

    It make no sense to me to debate these hackneyed political positions never providing a clear solution for an efficient energy policy who’s power source should be at its core small nuclear with small risk up-front investment & clean safe operations at lessened environmental degradation.
    It’s clear the developing world does not share the same nuclear polemic and thus sees alternate nuclear science plays at NPPs for its energy policy requirements.

    1. Bruce, you claim to not have a dog in this fight, but if you ever want to see small modular reactors developed or nuclear thermal propulsion to ever be deployed, don’t you realize that present-day and near-term future nuclear technologies have to be protected from the anti-nuclear troglodytes who would strangle them in their crib? To go to the planets and the stars, we first must build a firm foundation for nuclear energy here on Earth.

      The problem nuclear has isn’t primarily “designs, architectures and nuke fuel use”, that NPPs “DOMINATE the freakin’ landscape in North American (sic)”, or the machinations of “huge Gov’t”, “crony Big nuke business”, “mega big public utilities”. The problem is anti-nuclear fanatics like Helen Caldicott, Harvey Wasserman, Amory Lovins, and their ilk – who are troglodytes, luddites, woo-woos, primitivists, anti-industrial, anti-civilization, and at the core, anti-human and anti-life extremists. Many of them have tacit if not open support from Big Green as well as likely having funding from Big Oil/Gas.

      I do acknowledge that “Big Government” may have brought into existence many of the conditions that allow anti-nuclear fanatics to give us trouble. If nuclear energy had been developed by the private sector and the free market rather than by government weaponeers, nuclear energy’s development would have led to very different technologies deployed today and a likely far, far more healthy industry, but we cannot change the past. We can only affect the present and shape the future.

      Finally, if you have no dog in this fight, then, Bruce, why are you here?

      1. @Joe Public

        I agree with much of what you said, but I refuse to let big business off the hook so easily. The US has the best government that money can buy, largely as a result of laws that have been passed with the strong financial support (and what amounts to something so close to bribery in “campaign contributions” that I cannot understand the difference) of deep pockets industries seeking a return on their investment in the form of laws that give them express subsidies, laws that protect their markets, laws that allow them to hold down wages, laws that disadvantage their competitors, and laws that allow them to keep an ever increasing share of the pie that is generated by the efforts of many producers that just do not happen to work their way into the corporate suites.

        In the case of the battle against nuclear energy, it is hard not to notice that all other energy producers have a dog in the fight against the naturally unfair advantages of atomic fission. What else was gifted with the energy density of 2 million times as much energy per unit mass as oil, a minuscule waste generation profile, and massive abundance in the earth’s crust? It is just “not fair” for all of the rest of the energy sources to have to compete against that so they have done all they can – independently for the most part – to tie down the atomic Gulliver with all of the threads that the Lilliputians can muster.

        Included in that effort has been infiltration and downright sabotage inside the industry because so much of what most people think of as the “nuclear industry” is actually an integral part of the established energy industry that does not want to take full advantage of the natural physical properties of uranium and thorium. They prefer to play with their eyes blindfolded and nine fingers restrained.

  9. The only people that listen to Arnie Gundersen are anti-nukes who pay him. I forget where I saw it but there was a video of Arnie testifying before the NRC. If I had a valid safety concern and an audience of the regulator, I would get right to the point. However, Arnie used his time to make a self promoting video that plays well to anti-nukes but just waste the time of the regulators who job is to listen carefully and provide an answer to address the concern.

  10. Several comments to start my critique;

    Full Scale modeling issue:

    Mr. Gundersen points out that full scale modeling or testing of the AP1000 has not been completed as if that is some sort of Holy Grail. What that is actually is an attempt to slow the process down even further with the mistaken belief that a full scale model will somehow magically prove his point the water tank will not work as designed.

    The problem with that logic is that the tank will work as designed and I am sure he understands the design. But his real goal isn’t to make the plant safer to operate, his real goal is to make the design just that much more expensive to license. Mr. Gundersen does not want a safe plant since he does not want nuclear power to continue. So for him to indicate that he will only accept the design if a full scale model is tested is just flat out hypocrisy.

    Congressional Influence comment:

    Mr. Gundersen mentions Congressional pressure on the NRC to “quickly” license the AP. A breathless, rumor-filled comment if there ever was one. He throws the comment out there but does not provide proof of his statement. So we are just supposed to accept it as fact and truth.

    Two things: First no proof was provided of excessive Congressional or State influence on the NRC licensing process in his commentary. So his comment is just a diversionary smokescreen. What he does not discuss is the numerous times the anti-nuclear groups he provides technical consultation services have slowed the NRC licensing process using those same bureaucratic processes. Case in point his own testimony he discusses in the video which was basically a repeat of his submitted comments that were not resolved to his satisfaction.

    Secondly his influence comment is a diversionary smokescreen two-fer because it has nothing to do with the technical issues involved. So why throw it out there? Oh yeah because it will get his followers all revved up to donate money to try and stop that big, bad monolithic nuclear industry.

    Core Design comment:

    Mr. Gundersen keeps referring to the Fukushima core issues and automatically overlays them onto the AP1000 core. Core design is a little out of my realm since I am a mechanical engineer whose has not spent a lot of time on core design issues except during my Navy days. However the logic of assuming a 40 year-old core design and a core design of recent design will automatically fail in the same fashion is incorrect. Once again though, since he is in the business of spreading FUD, not true engineering analysis, this point of design logic will be lost on his followers.

    Water tank location:

    Water tanks at the top of buildings are not a new concept. Tanks are used as dampening for wind and seismic issues. So his concern about a large volume of water at the top of the containment building is either a lack of knowledge of current building design on his part or another attempt to spread FUD with his followers. Water tanks are used as auxiliary dampening devices and in fact can be tuned to a particular building design. So this is not a new concept. It is a concept that is being pulled from standard construction design practices already proven in places such as the US and Japan into the nuclear world and it should be allowed as appropriate. Now if Mr. Gundersen had stated that he disagreed with the tank’s ability to dampen any seismic issue he might have had a valid issue, doubtful but possible, however he did not since that was not the point of his criticism.

  11. I won’t delve into any details about his arguments right now but I think some of the reasons behind the opposition to the AP1000 is that it would be the first gigawatt-sized standardized reactor designs and can be built in a modular fashion thereby decreasing costs as production ramps up.

    This scares the hell out of those who are afraid of nuclear already and makes the competition nervous.

    I’ve read elsewhere the initial cost estimates for at least 4 reactors in China was $8.8 billion, or $2.2 billion per reactor. That’s very good if they can pull it off. If this could be duplicated over and over again, and hopefully a faster approval process once the design is certified, it means a gloomy day for the competition.

  12. Gundersen’s question of “What’s the rush?” in building the plants now is a misunderstanding of how utilities plan for the future. His statement that there is no need for new plants now may be true. I don’t know. But the utilities building the new Vogtle and Summer plants want them to be finished before they are actually needed.

    He also repeatedly says that the AP1000 design does not incorporate Fukushima lessons learned. To me, the main lesson of Fukushima was incorporated into the AP1000 design even before the earthquake and tsunami of this year. The main lesson is that new plants can be built that will not require emergency diesel generators to keep the cores cool. This is the essence of what the AP1000 safety approach is all about. No safety related diesels. No safety related pumps. The core is kept safe by natural forces such as gravity, heat conduction, and natural convective air flow. This isn’t an indictment of the Areva EPR or other active safety system designs. Each new design, as well as the existing plants in operation, will need to address Fukushima lessons learned in their own way. But to me, the AP1000 is already there.

    Gundersen’s repeated statements that there is only 0.7 lbs [sic] margin in the design pressure is a misunderstanding of how engineering is done. The 59 psi design pressure is not necessarily the pressure at which the tank blows apart. Engineers always put in reserve margin and make the most conservative assumptions in their calculations. I don’t know what the actual failure pressure might be, but it certainly should be higher than the design pressure stated in the various licensing documents.

    1. There’s the obvious, facetious, reply to Gundersen: what’s the rush in building renewables? We have all these wonderful coal and gas plants that we can let operate for the next half-century.

      Shouldn’t we take a decade or two break in solar PV construction to make them safer? How to dispose of toxic thin-film panels(e.g. cadmium and arsenic stay toxic forever, given their infinite half-life). How to prevent the fire-hazzard from improperly installed solar photovoltaics. Shouldn’t we invent some safety mechanism to prevent accidental electrocution of firemen putting out a fire in a house with roof-top PV? Shouldn’t we have proper safety protocols for grid maintenance to prevent supposedly unpowered grids from being accidentally energized by distributed energy sources?

      1. How about safety standards for PV roof installers. The installation of PV systems on homes across America could result in thousands of deaths due to falls from roofs.

  13. I am no expert on ASME Boiler codes, but the specification of the reserve margin is in the specific ASME code. Pull the code requirement off of the drawing and then look it up in the ASME code book and voila. As I recall the margin is considerable.

  14. This is an additional comment on the fact that for the AP1000 containment pressure analysis (which is the worst-design-basis-case value using deterministic analysis methods)is only 0.7 psi from the 59 psig design pressure.
    (Please excuse me if the details of the AP1000 analysis differ; the following is based on the assumptions used in legacy designs.)
    The containment design pressure has almost no relation to the failure pressure. Instead, the design pressure is used in calculating a hypothetical release rate of radioactive materials assuming that a hypothetical leak path already exists in the containment boundary. This analysis assumes that in the event of a major accident (e.g., a large-break LOCA), the containment pressure instantaneously rises to exactly the design pressure and remains at this value for 24 hours. Then, the pressure decreases to 0.707 times the design pressure (resulting in 1/2 the initial leak rate) and remains at this value for the next 30 days.
    In reality, the peak pressure never reaches the design value (by 0.7 psi in the case of AP1000) and decreases well below the peak value in much less than 24 hours. Even if the peak pressure did reach the design pressure, there would be no adverse effect on the containment.
    Structural analyses demonstrate that the containment can actually withstand pressures much greater than the design pressure (typically by a factor of 50% to 200%).

  15. Please excuse my error in the previous posting. The containment pressure decreases to 0.25 times the design pressure in order to reduce the leak rate to one-half the initial value.

  16. Hi all,

    On the question of debunking, I’d like to make a request too if I may.

    In the Netherlands, we have a respected think tank called “CE Delft”, which has lately been churning out reports that argue heavily against nuclear power. These reports are often referenced by anti-nukes in the Netherlands these days.

    As of this moment, plans are again on the table to build three new coal fired power plants in the Netherlands. The nuclear option is further away then ever, although the liberals and christian democrats are lukewarm pro-nuclear. Which makes a debunking of CE Delft’s reporting on the pros and cons of nuclear energy useful and timely!

    If anyone with knowledge about nuclear power would help debunk the CE Delft reports, I would be very grateful! If needed, I will see to it that CE Delft responds to any good criticism of its treatment of nuclear power in the Netherlands. Thanks in advance! I would appreciate to be able to catch CE Delft soiling it’s reputation as an independent evidence-based think tank, but I ask for help from the experts on this great website.

    (Both reports are in English and commissioned by the WWF by the way)



    1. Joris, with current regulations in place the external cost are already included. For example, the likely source of coal for the Netherlands would be from near where I live Virginia. The cost of the coal includes environment and health and safety regulations. Since China no longer exports slave labor coal, the cost of coal is based on what the US or Australia, can produce it.

      One of the reasons new reactors are more expensive is the external cost are eliminated by more expensive containment that will even keep in a melted core.

      Looking at the cost presented in their graphs which seem reasonable, the cost of coal and nuclear are about the same ignoring transportation and CO2. I have been to the Netherlands and there will be significant transportation costs from the Appalachian Mountains. Every new coal plant you build will buy a few thousand new big F250 4wd PU truck for out miners. We thank you!

      The CEOs in the US who have decided on new nukes designed for 60 years all know what it cost ship coal and future regulations for coal are only going to get stricter.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I guess supporting the US economy is not the worst effect of current Dutch energypolicy!

        1. I am surprised to see the Netherlands, a low lying country, turning to coal. I would think that the effects of a rising ocean and global warming in general would be of concern there?

          What alterations would have to be made to ports & canals and engineering marvels, like the Delta Works per meter of ocean rise, and what would the cost be? That should be considered in the Netherlands as part of the external cost of coal, oil, and natural gas.

    2. Yeah, the WWF is anti-nuclear too. Their “carbon scorecard” has the following astonishing misrepresentation:
      “To reflect this, a policy approach that favors the use of nuclear power was assessed in the following way: Indicators for the “current status” were adjusted, by assuming that electricity from nuclear energy was produced with gas, the most carbon efficient fossil fuel.”

      So their carbon scorecard admits to being more interested in anti-nuclear ideology than actual carbon emissions.

    3. Does this group make use of anything from the European Committee on Radiation Risk and/or its Scientific Secretary Christopher Busby? if it does, that is a serious flaw in their reasoning.

  17. It seems they may have redone this video as the embedded video is no longer showing. The link below does go to the video page still.

  18. Does anyone have any examples of Gundersen making clear cut impossible statements?
    The closest I can find is him saying that Fukushima Fuel pool hydrogen explosion had “prompt criticality”

    Other than that I am only able to find other people’s opinions that he is a quack.
    Using these opinions in an argument is not very effective because the other people have glowing positive opinions they can reference.

    Basically is there anything I can show that violates the laws of physics?
    If this is the wrong forum, can anyone point me to the correct one?

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