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Nuclear concerns

People are very concerned about nuclear issues. I think it is because it is an invisible killer and its method of killing is painful, horrific and slow. Who can blame them?

So while we consider a nuclear attack as one of our event scenarios most of us think that at this time a nuclear attack is quite low. The USSR is a shadow of its former self and the other nuclear powers are not interested in global domination via force. Political means via Western Socialists is a much better method and is working fine for them at the moment. While this does not mean the risk is gone completely we have other risks we think are more likely. That is why most of us do not have a Geiger counter or iodine tablets. As the world changes the risk also changes and in a few years I believe nuclear war will come back as a viable threat. That is why we will visit the issues and options available to us in later articles. Right now though the hot topic is radiation leaks.

The reason that is a hot topic now is that the issue in Japan with their reactor is still fresh in people’s minds and then comes governments recent announcement for 8 new reactors in the UK. About time they sorted that out btw. So let us look at this threat and see what the issues are.

In the UK we don’t live on any fault lines, any earthquakes we get are minor ones and all our reactors are robust enough to survive those. We don’t get any other extreme weather and they are also robust enough for what we get. Our only issue is that someone may attack one using heavy weapons or that someone sabotages one. The first will be difficult. Penetrating the outer walls will be impossible with weapons we could carry, remember it is designed to withstand a plane flying into it like 911, and an attack on the reactor core would again require someone inside to help and with the safety systems any leak would be confined to the building itself anyway. An attack on the storage areas where used rods are stored to cool down is possible and more likely to succeed but the impact would be localised. A dirty bomb in effect similar to a radiation leak. The other option would be to attack a convoy of fuel rods on their way to long term, 1000 years, storage but these are rarely moved, when they are they not moved in bulk and cannot be made into nuclear bombs only dirty bombs. Whichever way no nuclear explosion and a small radiation leak.

So overall I don’t see TEOTWAWKI triggered by nuclear power stations accidentally and it looks unlikely even by deliberate action.

Now, there are more than nuclear power stations in the UK which could cause a radioactive leak. We have nuclear weapons and the manufacture, transport and storage of these are obviously areas for a potential leak. However, nuclear weapons are highly regulated in the UK, isn’t everything, and security is tight. The weapons are guarded and stored securely under armed guard at all time. There are many precautions taken to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands. Even the raw materials are secured and protected so that every small bit is accounted for. Again, it is unlikely that anyone could acquire a weapon or material and if they did the weapons themselves are protected and they would have to weaponise the raw material to make it explode. Not an easy task even for experts.

Other sources of nuclear material are X-ray machines and other medical equipment. Although these are all low power and, again, can be made into dirty bombs they are not TEOTWAWKI weapons. They are also restricted but not to a great level due to their low output. However, as a weapon of terror I suppose they would do very handy mixed in with normal explosives although not very effective in terms of mass destruction. No real risk there either.

So, in all, outside nuclear weapons being used by a foreign power, we are unlikely to have an event caused by nuclear materials. Although clearly any leakage or escape will have significant local impact but not enough to destroy our society. Anyone close to any of these areas needs to have a nuclear contingency plan as part of their preparations.

Here, courtesy of Tinkertytonk, is the map of the UK with the proposed nuclear power stations overlaid on the current nuclear power stations. As you can see there are a few of them about, more than I thought actually, and you can see where they are in relation to yourself.

(Click to enlarge)

Note that they are dotted all over the country and the only clear areas are through Mid and South Wales, High Scotland and through the lower Midlands. When looking at this remember that the winds in the UK generally go from West to East or left to right on this map.

One thing missing though is the location of the nuclear weapon and storage sites such as Aldermasteron, Burghfield, Coulport, Faslane, etc. Here is a map of the military installations that hold nuclear material. Capenhurst is not on there as it is now decommissioned.

(Click to enlarge)

Note that they are dotted all over the country and the only clear areas are through Mid and South Wales and through High Scotland. Again, when looking at this remember that the winds in the UK generally go from West to East or left to right on this map.

Again, anyone near these sites should have a valid nuclear contingency plan just in case of a localised leak.

However, in saying that, if a different event happens. There is a very real danger from nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons. Power stations are managed by computers and have numerous fail safes in place. The intention is that any issue causes automatic systems to retract the fuel rods and slow down the nuclear reaction. Thus removing the possibility of a nuclear explosion. After an event these stations will be unmanned. The reactors might be inactive but the fuel rods and the potential radiation is still there. They require maintenance or they can overheat and leak radiation. The earthquake in Japan damaged a fuel rod storage area and that is what is leaking radiation not the reactor itself. Nuclear power stations are usually sited on the coast or on a major water source because they require cold fresh water to cool the used fuel cores down. If there was to be a breakdown in a pump, computer failure from a solar flare, the power was removed or several other issues then the fuel cores would heat up and put radioactive material in the atmosphere and this time there will be nobody there to correct any issues. Remember that these fuel cells require such cooling for 10 years before they can be safely buried. That is an issue that we could very well have to deal with after an event until the fuel rods have cooled and made themselves safe.

Bottom line though is that for the short term future a leak such as Japan has is unlikely and even if it happens it is likely to be localised. No major event. However, even a slight leak is a major event if you are in that area. So check your location and your retreat and prepare accordingly. I’ll be doing an article on a radiation in the future and in the meantime there are some sites out there with information if you consider it a high threat and want to start preparing now.

2 comments to Nuclear concerns

  • maddog

    there are a lot there why are these sites not in more remote areas of britain

  • Skean Dhude

    There are a lot of sites, more than I was expecting. I suspect the reason they are not in remote sites is because the nuclear power stations need to be near the grid and that is not in the middle of Scotland or Wales. The military stuff is probably for good reasons back in the 1950s and moving them requires new licenses, sites, etc. too much cost and effort.

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