Brit Reactor Design Flaws?
Here's a story from the Guardian talking about how the British MoD's "senior nuclear safety expert" is warning that the new generation of UK submarine reactors are potentially "vulnerable" to accident. Excerpts:
The MoD's senior nuclear safety expert warns that the safety of submarine reactors compares "poorly" with that of nuclear power stations, and there could be dangerous leaks of radioactivity. There was also a risk of "multiple fatalities" from submarines failing to surface, he says.While the article does contain some "the sky is falling!" language that one would expect from the press for anything nuclear, it's not as bad as many I've seen. What was interesting to me is that it appears that the Brits went away from just licensing U.S. reactor designs (with concomitant NR oversight) in favor of indigenously-designed plants, with predictably bad results. Our Brit brothers should have learned by now -- if you want good reactors, let NR design them. Some pale British substitute organization is no replacement for the real thing.
Yet the reactors are being installed in a new £10bn fleet of Astute submarines. And they are still under consideration for the submarines due to replace those that carry Trident nuclear missiles from 2028...
..."Current UK practice falls significantly short of benchmarked relevant good practice," he warns. The pressurised water reactors that run submarines are "potentially vulnerable to a structural failure of the primary circuit".
This could cause "a release of highly radioactive fission products" and "a significant risk to life to those in close proximity and a public safety hazard out to 1.5km from the submarine", McFarlane says.
"Current designs of UK and global civil power plants have systems for safety injection of coolant into the reactor pressure vessel head and passive core cooling systems," he adds...
...The MoD is also trying to decide on the type of reactor to drive the submarines destined to replace the Vanguards. The declassified MoD document discloses that there are several options still under consideration.
One, known as PWR2, is "essentially" similar to the Astute class, while another, PWR2b, has "significantly modified systems to improve platform safety and survivability". A third, PWR3, is described as a "new propulsion plant based on a US design but using UK reactor technology".
[Be careful about posting NNPI, please, when discussing this article.]