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QUOTE O’ THE DAY
"All we can do is analyze, aggregate, and synthesize bad news.
Page added on April 20, 2011
You are one of the most serious voices out there….
Nobody has written about this connection…
Solar SuperStorm => breakdown worldwide grid system => Worldwide Meltdown Nuclear Reactors….
Is it possible to let this go worldwide?
Enclosed the basic articles…
Coming Solar Storms Could Slam US into Third Depression
Cloud computing at risk from approaching solar storms
Solar SuperStorm = Worldwide Nuclear Meltdown
As evidenced in the sunspot activity chart above, the sun has exploded with activity, enough to raise an eyebrow while saying to yourself, ‘Woooow’.
As the sun boils up increased numbers of sunspots, we here on Earth need to be wary of the resultant solar flares and CME’s that are often hurled in our direction. These enormous belches of radiation have the potential of changing life as we know it, in just a matter of minutes.
An X-class solar flare can reach the Earth in just 8 minutes (CME’s, Coronal Mass Ejections, can take days). If an X-class flare, or CME, is of sufficient magnitude (keyword: sufficient magnitude), it could bring down our electrical power grid and end life as we know it… for a long period of time.
Do some of your own search-engine research on the ‘Carrington Event’ of 1859. If that were to happen today…
A solar SuperStorm of the size and duration of the 1859 Carrington Event has not happened since then. When it does, the world’s power grid infrastructure will be downed for years, and possibly decades. Think about that for a minute…
The effects of an 1859 solar event will be to burn out transformers all around the power grid. Many hundreds of the largest transformers are particularly problematic. Studies have shown that the time required to get any single replacement of these large transformers would be about 3 years. A solar SuperStorm event will affect many parts of the world, so the time to get these replacement transformers will likely be even longer. There essentially are no spares – they are extremely expensive to build – while taking years to build them.
Our reliance on the backbone of electrical power grids feeding systems that were at first conveniences, but are now life-depending, is a tremendous risk and assumption that we make while never considering the outcome should we lose power for a period of time such as this.
Hundreds of millions would surely die. It is a hard reality. If one thinks through the logic and scenarios of what would take place, it becomes very frightening to say the least.
A solar SuperStorm could happen at any time during a solar cycle, even during a solar ‘minimum’. It seems though that the odds are higher during a solar maximum (lots of sunspot activity), and we are currently approaching that time within solar cycle 24, which is due to peak sometime around 2013.
As noted in “Solar Cycle 24 update”, two America Scientists, Livingston and Penn have found that each newly formed sunspot in solar cycle 24 (starting about 1998) had and has less and less magnetic field strength which indicates the mechanism that creates the magnetic ropes (which float up to the sun surface to form sunspots) deep within the solar interior has been interrupted.
The magnetic ropes when released float up through the turbulent solar convection zone to the sun’s surface where they form sunspots. The magnetic ropes require a calculate strength of 3000 gauss to avoid being torn apart as they rise through the turbulent solar convection zone.
The recent sunspots are distorted and asymmetrical forming an unstable magnetic field configuration which then releases a solar flare.
Video about Solar SuperStorm
NASA Science News for July 16, 2010
Representatives from more than 25 of the world’s most technologically-advanced nations have gathered in Germany today to hear about a problem that may be too big for any one country to handle alone: solar storms.
FULL STORY at
dimanche, avril 05, 2009
NASA Report on 2012
Long scorned as “mysticism” and “parascience,” concern about the year 2012 has now surfaced in a mainstream NASA report on the potential impacts on human society of solar flares anticipated to peak in 2012.
Electrical grids & anticipated solar flares of 2012
Mainstream scientific concern about 2012 has grown since a recent National Research Council report funded by NASA and issued by the National Academy of Sciences, entitled “Severe Space Weather Events: Understanding Economic and Societal Impact” which details the potential devastation of 2012 solar storms on the current planetary energy grid and because of the inter-linkages of a cybernetic society, on our entire human civilization.
According to New Scientist, science’s concern is a repetition of the 8-day 1859 “Carrington event,” a large solar flare accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) that flung billions of tons of solar plasma onto the earth’s magnetosphere and disrupted Victorian-era magnetometers and the world telegraph system.
The New Scientist states, “The report outlines the worst case scenario for the US. The ‘perfect storm’ is most likely on a spring or autumn night in a year of heightened solar activity – something like 2012. Around the equinoxes, the orientation of the Earth’s field to the sun makes us particularly vulnerable to a plasma strike.”
The next solar maximum is expected to occur in 2012. New Scientist reports that Mike Hapgood, head of the European Space Agency’s space weather team states, “We’re in the equivalent of an idyllic summer’s day. The sun is quiet and benign, the quietest it has been for 100 years,” “but it could turn the other way.”
The modern electrical high-power grid magnifies the impact of solar flares. Since the grid is linked into major aspects of modern society, the effects of another Carrington event would be devastating. The National Academy of Sciences report states: “A severe space weather event in the US could induce ground currents that would knock out 300 key transformers within about 90 seconds, cutting off the power for more than 130 million people.” The New Scientist states: “According to the NAS report, the impact of what it terms a “severe geomagnetic storm scenario” could be as high as $2 trillion. And that’s just the first year after the storm. The NAS puts the recovery time at four to 10 years. It is questionable whether the US would ever bounce back.”
China, which is installing a high-power electrical grid more vulnerable than that of the U.S., Europe and other developed nations will be similarly impacted.
The solar coronal mass ejection from the 1859 Carrington event arrived on earth in less than 15 minutes, which is faster that our early warning system NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) can detect.
European Space Agency space weather head Mike Hapgood states, “I don’t think the NAS report is scaremongering. “Scientists are conservative by nature and this group is really thoughtful,” he says. “This is a fair and balanced report.”
More perfect storm: the hole in the earth’s magnetic field
According to a December 16, 2008 report, NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft has discovered a hole in earth’s magnetic field which is 10 times as large as previously thought. The magnetosphere, which is designed to protect earth from the plasma of solar flares, now has a hole in it four time the size of the earth.
According to the NASA report, “Northern IMF events don’t actually trigger geomagnetic storms but they do set the stage for storms by loading the magnetosphere with plasma. A loaded magnetosphere is primed for auroras, power outages, and other disturbances that can result when, say, a CME (coronal mass ejection) hits.”
The solar maximum is expected in 2012. University of New Hampshire scientist Jimmy Raeder states, “”We’re entering Solar Cycle 24. For reasons not fully understood, CMEs in even-numbered solar cycles (like 24) tend to hit Earth with a leading edge that is magnetized north. Such a CME should open a breach and load the magnetosphere with plasma just before the storm gets underway. It’s the perfect sequence for a really big event.”
Nuclear power plants are not isolated electrically. They are tied into the power grid and are also dependent upon it. There is a postulated accident for nuclear power stations called “Station Blackout,” where all off-site power is lost. Every nuclear power plant must prove to the NRC that they have the ability to withstand this event without core damage. Every US nuclear power plant has emergency diesel generators just for this purpose. These are designed to start automatically in the event of the loss of off-site power. This kind of event has actually happened before in the USA, and the systems responded as designed, and off-site power was restored within a reasonable period of time.
However, in the event of a Solar SuperStorm, the grid will come down, and it may not come up for many months, if not years. It is likely that a substantial number of transformers that are used to link power plants (and this applies to all power plants – coal, gas, oil and nuclear) to the grid will be “fried.” There will be no way to obtain off-site power to restart the nuclear power plants. Most station blackout events are assumed to be concluded (i.e., “over”) within 24 hours. No one that I know of has seriously analyzed the effects of prolonged station blackouts.
Assuming that the emergency diesel generators will start after an EMP event (and this is up for debate), most power plants only have enough diesel fuel on site to keep them running for about one week (though some may have up to 30 days of fuel). If they don’t start, or if the controls systems do not operate, then everything that I describe here will still come to pass, only much more rapidly. The power from the diesel generators is needed to operate the pumps that circulate the water in the reactor (called the “primary side”) and that also feed the steam generators with water (part of the “secondary side”). If power to the reactor coolant pumps in the primary side is lost, the reactor will likely begin what is known as “natural circulation.” However, in order to remove heat from the reactor core, water still needs to be continuously pumped through the steam generators so that the heated water in the secondary side can be cooled either via cooling towers, spray ponds or some other ultimate heat sink. If these secondary side (feed water) pumps will not operate, then the steam generators will dry out and then the cooling effect for the core is lost. (A steam generator is just a very large heat exchanger. Think of the steam generator as the “radiator” in your car. If your water pump goes out, water will not be able to flow through the radiator, and your car will overheat.) The result is that the reactor core will heat up, pressure will build to the point that the reactor coolant system (RCS) will not be able to withstand the pressure. Special spring-loaded valves will automatically lift and vent steam to the containment building to reduce the pressure in the primary system. Loss of pressure control will occur eventually, the coolant inventory in the RCS will drop to the point that the core becomes uncovered. Charging pumps normally would pump additional water into the primary system, but without power, these will not be available. Essentially, this event is similar to what is known as a Loss of Cooling Accident (LOCA). Again, all power plants are designed to “survive” this type of accident with minimal fuel damage. However, that assumption is based on having power available to operate the safety systems, including the High Pressure and Low Pressure Safety Injection (HPSI and LPSI) pumps to pump additional water into the primary system. There are other emergency systems, such as Safety Injection Tanks (SIT), which are passive and will inject water into the core when the pressure is reduced enough such that the SIT tank pressure is greater than the RCS pressure and then the check valves will open automatically. [It should be pointed out here that there are also steam-driven auxiliary pumps that will still function for a while to run the auxiliary feed water system to feed additional water into the steam generators (until there is no water left in the secondary system to turn into steam).]
The HPSI and LPSI pumps are designed to ensure that the core remains covered (as much as possible) by injecting water into the core so that the core can still be cooled. If these pumps are not working due to lack of electrical power, then no additional water is being injected into the core. When the water level in the reactor drops below the top level of the fuel, the core will begin to melt. This is what happened at Three Mile Island. However, the containment structure prevented large releases of radioactive fission products to the public.
You might ask, “well, if the containment structure can contain the melted reactor core, is there a real danger to the public?” The answer is, “yes,” but not from where you think. The reactor core may well be the focus of most people, but the real concern is somewhere else.
What many people don’t know about nuclear power plants is that when spent fuel is off-loaded from the reactor core, the fuel is then placed into what is essentially a large, very deep swimming pool called the “spent fuel pool.” Fuel that has been removed from an operating reactor core is still very hot (both in the sense of temperature and radiation level). In fact, if you were to stand within even 50 feet of a spent fuel assembly with no shielding, you would receive a lethal dose of radiation in just seconds. The water in the spent fuel pool, in addition to cooling the fuel assemblies, acts as a biological shield. In fact, water is an excellent shielding material. You can stand at the top of the spent fuel pool in virtually any nuclear power plant in the US and receive virtually no dose of radiation, so long as the fuel assemblies are covered by about 25 feet of water.
The building that houses the spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants in this country is usually a simple building, with concrete sides and floors but usually with nothing but a thin, corrugated steel roof. This is the root of the problem. Just like the fuel in the reactor, the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel in pool must also be cooled. These pools have their own independent, multiply redundant systems for cooling, separate from the systems that cool the reactor core. However, these pool cooling systems can be cross-tied with the reactor cooling systems in an emergency. The water in the spent fuel pool must be continuously circulated through heat exchangers (again, like your car radiator) to reject heat. Loss of off-site power will also cause a loss of spent fuel cooling. Normally, the temperature in these spent fuel pools is somewhere around 100 to 110 degrees F or so (similar to a typical suburban “hot tub”). When the spent fuel cooling system pumps stop operating, the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool will immediately begin to heat up. These fuel assemblies will continue to heat the water in the spent fuel pool until it boils. The best case scenario of “time to boil” for these spent fuel pools is perhaps 90 hours. The worst case, such as just after a core offload, would be much shorter, perhaps as little as four hours or even less. At that point, once the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool become uncovered because the water has boiled off, the effects mirror what would happen in the reactor core. The spent fuel assemblies will heat up until the fuel cladding starts to melt. As bits of the melting fuel fall into what is left of the water in the pool, the process will just accelerate as the heat source is now more concentrated since it has fallen back into the water and the water may flash to steam and this may cause the pressure in the building to increase, and radioactive steam, carrying radioactive particles, will now begin to exit the building through the non-sealed penetrations, portals or doors in the building.
Of course, there are usually multiple sources of water than can be called upon to re-fill the spent fuel pool before the water all boils off. But virtually all of these systems are dependent upon working, electrically operated pumps to move this water. If control systems have failed due to the EMP and there is no power to operate the pumps (either to add additional water or to pump water through the heat exchangers), then the fuel will ultimately become uncovered. Exposing the hot zirconium fuel cladding to air and steam causes an exothermic reaction, and the cladding will actually catch fire at about 1,000 degrees C. Even the NRC concedes that this type of fire cannot be extinguished, and could rage for days (Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan./Feb. 2002).
The bottom-line is that if the spent fuel cooling pumps cannot be operated or the system cannot be cross-tied with the reactor shutdown cooling system, then the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool will melt, catch fire, and radioactive fission products will be released into the atmosphere and much of the countryside downwind of the nuclear power plant will be contaminated for many years. Thus, an EMP attack has the potential to cause a Chernobyl type accident at every nuclear power plant in the country!
There are a lot of “ifs” to this scenario. IF there is an EMP attack or solar event. IF the emergency diesel generators will function (or not) and IF the spent fuel pooling system can get power from the diesels or be cross-tied to the shutdown cooling system. Perhaps the emergency diesel generators will still function, but what happens when they run out of fuel? In the event of an EMP attack, can tanker trucks with diesel fuel get to all of the nuclear power plants in the US in time to re-fuel them before they stop running? Will tanker trucks even be running themselves?
I think it also bears noting that the volume of fuel in the spent fuel pools is many times greater than that in the reactor cores. Most nuclear power plants have 10 to 20 years or more of spent fuel stored in their spent fuel pools. Therefore, the consequences of a spent fuel pool melting down and subsequently spewing radioactive fission products into the air is potentially worse than if just the reactor core were to melt and its fission products releases into the air. Assuming all of the spent fuel in the pool melts, catches fire and the radioactive isotopes are released into the atmosphere, lethal dose rates may be accumulated even 5 to 10 miles from the plant site (>500 REM), with dose approaching 50 REM even out as far as 50 miles. Since Cesium-137 would be the largest released isotope in terms of curies (which the body preferentially uptakes over potassium), it will be about 300 years before the area might be habitable again. This is because Cesium-137 has a half-life of about 30 years, and the “rule of thumb” is that you need to wait ten half-lives before the isotope has decayed away to a negligible level. (Results for dose were calculated for a typical pressurized water reactor (PWR) spent fuel pool using the RASCAL radiation dose code from Oak Ridge National Laboratory assuming 100% release over two days, winter conditions, calm winds at 4 mph.)
I urge anyone living within 50 miles downwind of a nuclear power plant to be prepared to bug out in the event of an EMP attack. You will likely have a few days to pack and leave, but no more than a few. If the reactor near you has just refueled, and the emergency diesels do not start, you may have less than one day (since the heat load in the spent fuel pool immediately after a refueling is much greater than normal, and boiling will occur much faster). Many people have already expressed here the importance of having a G.O.O.D. bag and a plan to leave their current location if required. However, many people may need to evacuate on foot or by bicycle if the EMP attack renders their vehicles useless. I think this puts added emphasis on having a G.O.O.D. vehicle that is not reliant on computers or complex electronics