A 43-year explosion cover-up rages into the future. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the rest of the nuclear energy industry refuse to stop nuclear power plant explosions.
NRC Lies are the Core of an Industry-wide Nuclear Safety Deception with Respect to Explosions
The U.S. NRC lied to us. Government accountability must be questioned and confronted when we are endangered by that government. To date, I have not directly accused the NRC of dishonesty, but today I clearly accuse the NRC of dishonesty with respect to nuclear power plant explosion safety.
The OpEd "Blasting into Our Lives - The Three Mile Island [TMI] Explosion Cover-Up: TV, Myth, and Reality" summarizes an NRC cover-up, where two measured TMI explosions need additional explanation (Leishear, 2022) (click here). Three Mile Island reports are the basis for nuclear safety with respect to explosions, and such reports were not only false, but a primary U.S. government report was dishonest with respect to measured explosions at Three Mile Island (3/28/1979).
Let me explain this accusation. Contradicting reports started the NRC lie. One report provided honest information; the other report included dishonest information. The reported dishonest information was then used as a 43-year guide for the nuclear industry.
The TMI Explosion Investigation Started as an Honest Assessment
The President's Commission, Kemeny Report (10/30/1979), accurately reported that explosions occurred in the reactor-containment building. "And at 1:50 p.m., a noise penetrated the TMI-2 control room; 'thud[s],' as... later characterized... were the sound of a hydrogen explosion[s] inside the containment building. [Thuds were] heard in the control room; [their] force[s] of 28 pounds per square inch [were] recorded on a computer strip chart there... [Hydrogen] caused the explosion[s] in the containment building on Wednesday afternoon."
Installed instruments were unable to measure high-speed explosion waves, and pressures were much higher than measured. The Kemeny report factually acknowledged two containment explosions ('water hammer explosions'), but incorrectly refuted a reactor system explosion (a 'core explosion'). Reactor explosion investigations for Fukushima still need seismic data to complete a comprehensive analysis, where such seismic data is withheld.
Subsequent Research Proved that 'Water Hammer Explosions' Detonated at TMI
An explosion was waiting to happen in the TMI reactor containment building. Available for detonation, unburned flammable hydrogen in the building was created partially by thermolysis as steam converted to hydrogen and oxygen at high temperatures, and hydrogen was primarily generated by melting nuclear fuel rod chemical reactions that formed hydrogen only for combustion. This hydrogen was vented earlier in the accident from the reactor core to the piping and building.
The following basic sequence of events defines the TMI 'water hammer explosion mechanism', which can detonate during severe accidents in other nuclear plants, such as Fukushima. Based on evolving research since 2010: the electromagnetically operated valve (EMOV) was opened by an operator; a water hammer surged upward to a high-point safety valve to compress and heat hydrogen gas to explode; the explosion opened the safety valve to blast out high-temperature gases into the containment building to act as a spark; and then hydrogen and air in the containment building detonated.
Two 'water hammer explosions' were heard. The first explosion upstream of the safety valve in the reactor system piping heated piping due to this explosion, as measured in the plant. A nearly simultaneous explosion in the building detonated as the safety valve opened to ignite hydrogen and oxygen. These two explosions were the first audible explosion noises that generated the first bang. Consistent with Fukushima explosions, there were two explosions in the building, following the initiating explosion in the piping, i.e., in all three 'water hammer explosions' detonated. The second building explosion generated the second bang.
One piping explosion and the first building explosion detonated due to hydrogen combustion, and a second building explosion detonated due to organic combustion. High temperatures from the building hydrogen explosion partially melted a phone in the building and burned paints to fuel the organic explosion. Detonation waves crushed 55 gallon drums in the building, where fire would have expanded these drums, rather than crushing these drums. All facts that disagreed with the false fire theory were dismissed during NRC investigations, which constructed and enforced the TMI explosion cover-up.
The Cornerstone of NRC Dishonesty with Respect to TMI Explosions and Nuclear Reactor Safety
Calling an explosion a fire is clearly dishonest. NRC-NUREG 0600 (7/26/79) stated that "the 28-psig pressure spike in the TMI-2 containment occurred at 13:50:21... An operator had just been directed to open the EMOV [electromagnetically operated block valve], which had the ability to initiate a water hammer]. Concurrent with his manipulation of the controls, some operators and the Station Manager heard a 'double thump'...". Although the valve opening and simultaneous banging proved that explosions occurred, this report falsely claimed that a burn, or fire, occurred in the containment building. "Some of this gas burned in the reactor building at about 10 hours after the accident producing a rapid pressure spike (28 psig) in the containment."
UUsing the same information available to the investigators of the Kemeny Report, this NUREG 0600 report falsely claimed that there were no TMI explosions at all. Having NUREG 0600 in hand, NUREGCR-1250 (1/1980) made the same false claim that an explosion did not occur, and that the sound that was "heard was a water hammer in the reactor building spray system piping". Such claims constituted a lie endorsed by the NRC; i.e., per Merriam-Webster, a lie presents false information with the intention of deceiving. As proof, a fire cannot transmit a thump through the concrete walls of the reactor containment to the control room, fires do not initiate shock waves, and explosive detonation waves impacted and vibrated concrete walls to be heard as thumps in the control room.
Consequently, the claim that a TMI burn, or fire, occurred is certainly false, and such information deceived the nuclear industry for decades. Since 1979, this lie has been the faulty cornerstone for nuclear plant explosion safety.
The TMI Explosion Cover-up Fell Into Place
A deceptive fire theory set the path for others to follow. NRC-NUREG CR-1219 (1/1980) stated that "At about 10 hours, the containment pressure briefly increased by 28 psi, indicating a containment hydrogen burn." Why the investigators of this report dismissed the Kemeny reported explosions is unknown. Investigators chose to reference the NRC published NUREG 0600, which falsely reported a TMI fire. In accordance with this wrong choice, this NUREG CR-1219 report performed numerous calculations assuming that explosions did not occur. The TMI explosion cover-up was complete, and much research was misdirected.
DOE-GEND-INF-023 (3/1983) referenced NRC-NUREG CR-1219, and accordingly the invalid starting point for this analysis was an assumption that no explosions occurred at TMI. Within four years of the TMI explosions, the explosion cover-up was entrenched in NRC investigations, as evidenced by the title, "Analysis of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Hydrogen Burn".
The TMI Explosion Cover-up Continues to Affect Nuclear Reactor Safety Today
Nuclear safety fails to protect us while this government cover-up
stifles technology. Even today, this path of deceit about explosion safety is the path most often traveled. Leaving this path in a series of NRC documents, "Dr.
Leishear [described the 'water hammer explosion mechanism', and] postulated
that an auto-ignition of a hydrogen-oxygen mixture can occur in reactor coolant
system (RCS) piping due to a sudden compression of the mixture during a fluid
transient. He further postulated that the auto-ignition can cause a pressure
increase that lifts a safety valve or ruptures the [reactor coolant system],
which can expel a flame that causes a hydrogen
burn or explosion inside
containment under severe accident conditions (NRC-ML15191A398, 3/23/2015)."
Back on the path of false information, the Chairman of the NRC responded that "The analyses ensure that ignition sources, regardless of their cause, would not result in unacceptable consequences. Therefore, a postulated ignition source of water hammer in the [reactor system] is bounded by these plant analyses (NRC-ML15191A397, 3/23/2015)."
In other words, explosions will not be further considered by the NRC, and the NRC refused to respond to any correspondence since the date of that report. Based on falsified reports, the NRC cover-up perpetuates a lack of reactor explosion safety. Safety analyses to ensure the safety of all nuclear power plants are potentially inadequate, and regulations may be inadequate as well, e.g., NRC Regulations, Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 52.137, Contents of applications, technical information.
An unanswered letter to the DOE and NRC (12/3/2020) stated that: "As I fight to make the world a little better place to live, I am extremely disappointed that people disregard loss of life. Granted, new technology is difficult to accept, but how can people just look the other way and allow nuclear accidents to continue? How can safety not be applicable to the U.S. nuclear reactor fleet?" Grave accusations were casually dismissed.
As protectors and regulators of nuclear safety, neither the NRC nor the DOE act to stop nuclear power plant explosions. Additionally, unaddressed explosion hazards exist in other nuclear process facilities, where this explosion theory has not been addressed by the DOE.
Research to Counter the TMI Explosion Cover-up and Counter Risks to Our Safety
Through extensive research following the NRC dismissal of explosion safety concerns, I learned that 'core explosions' occurred inside reactor systems as well as in reactor-containment buildings. Recent experimental and theoretical thermolysis research shows that water dissociates into hydrogen and oxygen at high temperatures. Once formed during a meltdown, the heat of a molten core explodes the flammable gases. Such explosions damaged the reactor systems at TMI and Fukushima. Additional research is required with respect to core explosions.
This common 'reactor core explosion mechanism' and the 'water hammer explosion mechanism' mentioned above relate the TMI and Fukushima disasters. At TMI, core explosions blew out a rupture disc and blasted out the contents of a drain tank 14 minutes after the accident started, where a rupture disc is a metal plate that bursts from a pipe or tank at pressures higher than intended to prevent major damage to the piping or tank. At Fukushima, core explosions damaged the reactor system to release hydrogen for detonation in the containment building. 'Water hammer explosions' followed 'core explosions' at both TMI and Fukushima, where TMI explosions were contained inside containment buildings, and Fukushima explosions blasted radioactive dust into the air to travel around the earth.
Conclusive proof has been published that 'water hammer explosions' occurred at Fukushima and TMI. Conclusive proof has been published that 'core explosions' detonated at Fukushima. A 'core explosion' at TMI occurred 14 minutes after accident initiation, where evidence demonstrates a TMI 'core explosion'.
The Meltdown and Core Explosion
Perhaps a bit technical for an OpEd, the steps that detonated a TMI 'core explosion' are presented here. Conclusions are based on data in NUREG 0600 and decades of water hammer studies. Hammering was heard at 8 minutes from accident initiation. High temperatures alarmed for the piping between the reactor and drain tank at 8 minutes and 17 seconds, i.e., two-phase flow occurred as the reactor core was temporarily uncovered, and steam was released from the partially exposed reactor core. Then, TMI piping temperatures dropped significantly during water hammers at 13 minutes and 25 seconds, where two-phase flow or steam changed to single-phase water flow to fill the piping. Water then back flowed into the melting core to initiate a 'core explosion'. Since the piping was filled with water above the core at that moment, this explosion transmitted a shock wave back to the rupture disc at 14 minutes. This shock wave burst the rupture disc on the drain tank. That is, a core meltdown started at approximately 8 minutes after the accident started. The reactor core was partially uncovered for at least 5 minutes, and 47 seconds. The time equaled 35 seconds between the time that the pipe filled with water and the time that the rupture disc blew out.
Half of the core melted during the accident, and the melting process after the meltdown started is outside the scope of this work. Further research is needed to investigate this complex explosion mechanism. The 43 year cover-up hindered such an investigation, but TMI 'core explosions' are now demonstrated.
The Scope of Hydrogen Explosions in Nuclear Power Plants
Of parallel interest, significant 'core explosions' occurred during the Chernobyl and SL-1 reactor explosions, 'core explosions' of varying magnitudes are expected during all meltdowns, and smaller repeating hydrogen 'water hammer explosions' have detonated, and continue to detonate, throughout the nuclear industry. For example, six-inch-diameter steel pipes were shredded like firecrackers at Hamaoka, Japan and Brunsbuttel, Germany nuclear power plants. Also, water hammers have been reported in nuclear power plants, where some hammers were certainly explosions instead.
The crux of this research is that if explosions had not been covered up by the NRC, research would have certainly been performed to understand the TMI explosions to stop Fukushima explosions and stop the next nuclear plant explosion.
Industry Complicity in an Explosion Cover-up
NRC deceit has negatively affected the entire nuclear industry. Numerous organizations were contacted (July 7, 2022) to improve nuclear power plant safety. Not a single organization responded to the following message or numerous other messages concerning nuclear safety:
"In a recent OpEd, your organization was accused of complicity, or wrongdoing, in the cover-up of explosions with respect to 'legitimate safety concerns' in nuclear power plants. That  article is titled, 'We Should Be Afraid of Nuclear Power', by R. A. Leishear, PhD., P.E., ASME Fellow (click here). Does your organization have any response to this accusation?"
Complicit Governments and Organizations
The rest of the nuclear industry followed the mistakes and deceit for explosion safety. Of the many affected organizations, contacted organizations included the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Energy for the Department of Energy, the American Nuclear Society, Home Box Office (HBO), the Washington Post, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Energy Agency in Europe, the Tokyo Electric Power Company who operated the exploded Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants, and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority in Japan.
Many other organizations, newspapers, magazines, and governments are complicit in this cover-up, as pro-nuclear advocacy dismisses inherent explosion dangers to nuclear power. Such a dismissal of facts constitutes deceit: i.e., per Merriam-Webster, deceit is the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.
A 2039 Prediction for the Next Nuclear Disaster, Based on the Years Between Meltdowns
(Image by Robert A. Leishear for the graph and most of the figure; US NRC for the photo in the figure) Details DMCA
Figure 1: A 2039 Prediction for the Next Nuclear Disaster, Based on the Years Between Meltdowns
Nuclear Power Industry Safety Improvements
There have been few large-scale nuclear power plant disasters: Chernobyl, TMI, and Fukushima, which are part of 11 different power plant meltdowns since the 1950s. For any meltdown to occur, control room operators must lose control of a nuclear reactor, either partially or completely. In fact, this loss of control is the common factor that relates these different meltdowns, where meltdowns had many different causes, and meltdowns were considered to be impossible before each of these meltdowns occurred.
In Figure 1, meltdowns between 1959 and 2011 are listed as Items 1-11, and meltdowns are shown sequentially from left to right as they occurred. Additionally, dates of occurrence along with locations are shown, and the vertical bars in the graph depict the times between meltdowns. These meltdowns resulted in various amounts of damage to the nuclear reactors, where the largest plant damages generated the largest changes to nuclear safety. Basically, nuclear plant explosions are chemical explosions, which sometimes have the added consequence of radiation fallout.
TMI is dismissed as inconsequential by some people since there were no fatalities and no fallout, but at the time fear focused the entire world, and nuclear industry new construction shut down for many years due to TMI. Fear crippled the nuclear industry.
The importance of Fukushima is downplayed by some people, since thousands drowned in the tsunami that caused the Fukushima explosions. Near Fukushima, less than 100,000 of the hundreds of thousands of evacuated people have yet to return to their homes due to contaminated soil from radioactive fallout, numerous cancer deaths have resulted, and about 760,000 tonnes of radioactively contaminated water were dumped into the ocean.
In the wake of disasters, safety has improved significantly due to responsive industry actions. Shown in Figure 1 the improved time between meltdowns is shown to significantly increase from left to right on the graph. From this graph, the time between nuclear power plant meltdowns has increased to nearly 25 years for the time between Chernobyl and Fukushima meltdowns.
Preventable Explosions and the Next Meltdown Disaster
Even so, the NRC cover-up still precipitated preventable Fukushima explosions, where one of the explosions is shown in Figure 1. Also, an approaching explosion can be stopped if preventive actions are taken.
Two trend lines are shown in Figure 1, where numerous trend lines were considered that differ in the manner in which data was processed for calculations. One trend line shows an ineffective, low-valued prediction for the next meltdown when all nuclear power meltdowns are included in calculations. Given the importance of TMI changes to the industry, a second trend line includes only the meltdowns from TMI forward.
From this post-TMI trend line, Item 12 in Figure 1 at the far right of the graph shows that the next meltdown and possible explosion is predicted in the year 2039 +/- 15 years. Note that the +/- 15 year uncertainty implies that there is also a 2.5% probability of a nuclear plant disaster before 2024. In other words, statistics show that the next disaster can happen at any time.
Troubles with Nuclear Power Explosion Safety
In short, the NRC promoted, and promotes, a trail of deceit that affects explosion safety throughout the nuclear industry, and this deceit adversely misdirected nuclear reactor research, design, and analysis for decades. In fact, there are no nuclear reactor computer design codes or severe accident analysis computer codes that correctly evaluate explosions in nuclear power plants, where such codes are approved for use by the NRC.
Of particular importance, previous and future accident analyses are error prone. Specifically, previous reports for nuclear-accident analyses did not consider appropriate explosion mechanisms. That is, past models for the TMI and Fukushima accidents were incapable of modeling explosions. Future models, and explosion prevention, will have similar trouble unless computer codes are corrected to include explosion mechanisms to advance explosion technology for nuclear power plants, but the NRC continuing cover-up thwarts technology and prevention of explosion hazards.
Inaction is an implicit decision to accept explosions and meltdowns. Perhaps the next explosion may be found to be acceptable to the NRC and to some other people since previous severe accident death rates have been low so far, but what happens if the next explosion occurs in the highly populated areas of central Europe, California, or the northeastern U.S? Even in less populated areas, loss of life must certainly be considered. "The next nuclear power plant explosion catastrophe bangs at our doors" (Leishear, 2022) (click here).
We should fear such consequences, and we should prevent the next explosion! Should we accept nuclear power plant explosion dangers?
Addendum (7/13/2022): Dereliction of Duty
Should we accept dereliction of duty by the gatekeepers of nuclear safety? All organizations that were mentioned in this OpEd were contacted with the following message, with the exception of the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority who blocked the message. Dereliction is an intentional abandonment per Merriam Webster, and all of these organizations fail to act on proven explosion safety concerns. More importantly, government agencies and regulators are derelict when they fail to ensure nuclear safety.
"Nuclear power plant safety is jeopardized by the Three Mile Island cover-up, as discussed in [this] July [9, 2022] OpEd News article, titled "Deceit is the Core of Nuclear Power Explosion Safety" (click here).
Your organization is mentioned in that article. Comments are welcome".
Also note that the NRA, TEPCO, and the NEA all use text message boxes, which prohibit the sender from having email copies for future proof of correspondence. The Japanese NRA text boxes also have a text editor that prevents the use of the words explosion or explode, i.e., NRA records exclude any reference to explosions in emails, which prevents any future audit of their email records from finding explosion references.
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