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When things go wrong at a nuclear power station, it can be a total disaster.This has led to the perception with some that even popping into one is a risky endeavour. Risk-free: Inside the reactor is uranium dioxide fuel in stainless steel tins, carbon dioxide coolant, a graphite moderator and metal control rods.
Cold facts: This is one of Torness's four cooling water pumps, which pulls seawater in through 'drum screens'. Keeping a lid on it: The reactors are sealed by a 'pile cap', so called because the first ever nuclear reactor was built on a squash court in Chicago and it was referred to as a a€?pilea€™ by those who built it. Each time a worker comes out of the Radiological Controlled Area all small items, from tools to helmets, will be put into a 'SAM', or small article monitor to screen for potential contamination, however miniscule the level. Safety first: There are five machines like this at Torness - full body monitors that workers must stand inside before they leave the Radiological Controlled Area. LCO stands for Limiting Condition of Operation (operation rules) and CCR is the Central Control Room. Pressurised job: Working at the plant inevitably involves getting to grips with pipes, valves and pressure read-outsSome of this radiation comes from naturally occurring radon in the building materials, some from filters being changed. Education: Opened in 2013, Torness's visitor centre features interactive games and displays that explain how nuclear energy is made.
A new report out today casts doubt on the ability of the nuclear industry to deliver its promised new reactors. French companies EDF and Areva, who are at the forefront of the new worldwide reactor design and building programme, have been making serious investments in foreign markets where they hope to build new reactors, including here in the UK.
The OL3 European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) project, under construction at Olkiluoto, Finland, is seen by the nuclear industry as the blueprint for a new generation of reactors they'd like to see being built all over the world.
Already well behind schedule and way over cost, serious problems were uncovered two days ago in the primary coolant pipes, only a week after documents leaked to Finnish media revealed that designs for the most vital and fundamental part of this untried and untested nuclear reactor - the safety systems - are still not yet in place.
The troubled plutonium and uranium reprocessing plant at Sellafield may have to shut down. Following the French government's announcement that it wants to build a second EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) comes the news that the nuclear waste produced by this so-called state of the art reactor is far more dangerous than that of ordinary reactors. Nuclear waste from the reactors likely to be built in the UK will be up to seven times more hazardous than that produced by existing reactors.

However, MailOnline was given exclusive access to EDFa€™s Torness nuclear power station on the east coast of Scotland a€“ and didna€™t come out glowing.One of the lead engineers there pointed out that in fact flying exposes you to more radiation than standing on top of one of its two reactors. The turbines are the light blue machines, the generator the darker blue machine next to them.
Visitors can test their strength by turning the handle to generate enough elecrtcity to power a toaster, a TV or other household devices.
Inside the tubes, they pump water, the water turns to steam, and then steam is used to drive a turbine.
The Sellafield mixed oxide plant (SMP) cost the taxpayer ?472 million and was intended to turn plutonium and uranium recovered from used nuclear fuel into usable fuel for overseas nuclear reactors. The admission was made in an 'environmental impact assessment' report by nuclear company Posiva. And if you can picture the turbine a€“ ita€™s like a windmill on a stick - the steam blowing across the blades makes its spin. Posiva are responsible for managing the waste which will be produced by the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) currently being constructed in Olkiluoto, Finland. They note how the deal will cost customers $2 billion to keep open AEP power plants that would otherwise close.One complaint we haven’t heard yet comes from Senator Bill Seitz, chairman of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee. And an independent nuclear consultant has warned that this will increase the costs of nuclear energy, as waste storage and safety expenses will rise above expected levels. If you think of an alternator in your car, ita€™s the same principal a€“ inside the generator, the rotor spins through a magnetic field, and that's where the electricity is created.a€?So the whole thing is about getting the rotor spinning. Seitz recently joined in on criticizing AEP’s bailout proposal – but for the wrong reasons. We do more or less the same, except the initial source of heat isn't chemical, like burning coal in air.a€?What we do, is we take biggest naturally occurring atom, which is uranium. Rather than attack the multibillion dollar subsidies going to outdated power plants, the senator critiques a small carve-out for a new solar energy project in Appalachia that will employ veterans.He believes the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) should not favor one technology over another, a reasonable point considering the PUCO is supposed to foster a fair, competitive electricity market. But that’s precisely why he should blast subsidies for coal plants that can’t compete in the marketplace.
But in that splitting you produce a little bit of energy, it's at the atomic level, but happening millions of times of second in the reactor and it produces a significant amount of heat.a€?Also, when uranium splits, two or three neutrons come off, and we design the reactors to persuade at least one of those neutrons to react with another uranium 235 atom and make it split, and a neutron from that goes to another uranium 235 atom and it splits.

When coal first arrived on the scene many years ago, it was not an affordable or competitive fuel source.
That's the so-called chain reaction and is the way we control the reactor if we want to start it up. Government support propelled it to become the traditional electricity source we know today.Want a level playing field for #energy?
A recent report showed federal taxpayer incentives for non-renewable electricity sources were more than five times greater than those for renewables – and that’s just in the U.S. That shuts it down.a€?If you want to start the reactor up a€“ you pull the control rods out gradually. And that heat is made by tiny tiny atomic splits of uranium 235, but therea€™s so many of them that you get significant amounts of heat.a€?The fuel we use is about the diameter of a thumb.
Seitz and other conservatives rightfully argue for a level playing field, clearly all energy sources have never been treated equally.
The government has been picking winners – in the form of fossil fuels – by subsidizing them with tens of billions of dollars, while externalizing the costs of pollution to the American people.More importantly, the level playing field argument is exactly why conservatives should oppose AEP’s plea for subsidies. And they are contained within stainless steel clad, about a metre long, and the diameter of your thumb, and wea€™ve got about a 100,000 of those in the reactor.a€?Thata€™s where all the heat comes from. If its coal plants can’t stay afloat in a competitive marketplace, why should AEP customers pay to keep them open?
We pass gas over the fuel pins, to take the heat away, and when the gas gets hot it comes down over boiler tubes, and when the gas is coming down, the water is going up, picking up the heat from the gas, turning to steam. Seitz doesn’t want to play favorites, he should oppose a deal that guarantees profits for a politically powerful utility.
Dick currently focuses on creating new financing opportunities for efficiency, ensuring smart meters provide the real-time data that will enable consumers to cut energy and pollution, and building the business case for efficiency within commercial buildings.Follow Dick on Twitter »About this BlogEDF's energy experts discuss how to accelerate the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy economy.

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