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Potential Explosions at Ukraine Nuclear Reactors Can Be Stopped

Message Robert A. Leishear, PhD, PE, ASME Fellow

The safety analyses of Ukraine nuclear power plants do not consider acts of war, and an explosion will ignite if a potential meltdown is caused by a military attack.

Granted, there are procedures and safeguards in place to protect the public against nuclear power plant failures, but there are important questions to be asked about Ukraine nuclear reactor safety in these troubled times. Does the Safety Analysis for the Ukraine nuclear reactors consider acts of war? If not, does anyone know how safe these reactors will be if they are attacked? Is there a possibility of a reactor meltdown during an attack? If so, or if unknown, are emergency responses identified if such a meltdown occurs? If there is no possibility of a meltdown, then the case is closed. If a meltdown can occur, any subsequent explosions and radioactive releases can be stopped. Consider the fact that safety analyses proved that there was no possibility of an explosion when the Fukushima nuclear power plants exploded in 2011, and the Ukraine power plants were built before those explosions.

The fact is that safety analyses for nuclear reactors do not address acts of war, and accordingly nobody knows if a meltdown can occur if a nuclear power plant is attacked. However, one thing is certain, meltdowns cause explosions, and such explosions can be stopped. A criticality releases sudden high levels of radiation inside a nuclear plant where protective actions are in place, but explosions expose people outside the plant where protective actions are not in place.

The potential outcomes of war in Ukraine are new to all of us. The hard questions should be asked before action is required.

I do not know if Ukraine reactors will be attacked. I do not know if there will be damages. I do not know if there will be a meltdown. However, I do know that explosions caused by meltdowns that blast radioactive dust and radioactive fallout into the air to encircle the globe can be stopped.

To support this conclusion, see "Water Hammers Exploded the Nuclear Power Plants at Fukushima Daiichi", March 3rd, 2022, ASME, Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science, where the understanding of nuclear technology and nuclear plant explosions continues to evolve. I have invested most of the past six years into working on this voluntary research, and some findings are new to the nuclear industry. The next nuclear power plant explosion is on the way, and events in Ukraine may speed up that explosion. Facts prove that my scientific findings are correct.

In particular, hydrogen gases that are generated during and after a nuclear reactor meltdown must be released from nuclear reactor systems before adding water to cool molten reactor cores. If gases are not removed from the nuclear reactor system, subsequent coolant water additions and complex fluid mechanics can heat flammable hydrogen to ignite preventable explosions. Such explosions would be similar to those at Fukushima Daiichi. The exact physics to prevent explosions are still being researched, but the fundamental concept of gas release to stop explosions is now known. That is, once the flammable gases are removed following nuclear reactor meltdowns, explosions cannot occur. If a meltdown occurs in Ukraine, available new information should be provided to those who may need direction to respond to this explosion threat to reactor safety, where an explosion is inevitable if a meltdown occurs, and action is not taken in advance.

Writing this article was a difficult decision. New ideas challenge the long-held beliefs of others - sometimes the ingrained beliefs of a lifetime for others are criticized. The President of the American Nuclear Society refers to concerns about nuclear plant explosions as "worry porn" (Ukraine update from the ANS President and Executive Director/CEO, ANS). I obviously disagree completely. I expect resistance to this opinion, perhaps even vicious attacks against my opinions or even personal attacks. New ideas solicit constructive criticism as well as curse words from those who disagree. However, if a meltdown occurs, and I do no not make the effort to stop that explosion, integrity will fall to nothingness. I choose to stand for what I believe, and take the risks of confronting others. If a meltdown occurs, stop the explosion that can cause cancer deaths due to radiation exposures.

Robert A. Leishear, Ph.D., P.E., PMP, ASME Fellow

(Article changed on Mar 12, 2022 at 11:09 PM EST)

(Article changed on Mar 12, 2022 at 11:17 PM EST)

(Article changed on Mar 13, 2022 at 10:22 AM EDT)

(Article changed on Mar 13, 2022 at 11:41 AM EDT)

(Article changed on Mar 13, 2022 at 11:51 AM EDT)

(Article changed on Mar 13, 2022 at 12:19 PM EDT)

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Robert A. Leishear, PhD, P.E., PMP, ASME Fellow, NACE Senior Corrosion Technologist, NACE Senior Internal Piping Corrosion Technologist, AMPP Certified Protective Coatings Inspector, NACE Cathodic Protection Tester, Structural Steel Worker, (more...)

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