Saturday, March 14, 2009

Key to safe nuclear power

My Chernobyl details the problems and are available on and
If the hydrogen which is generated in the reactor core from the reaction of the steam (coolant) with the zirconium alloy (or other low neutron absorbing metal cladding and other fuel bundle elements) explodes inside the building surrounding the reactor, this detonation still will not cause a break of the pressure boundary of the containment.
Thirty years after the TMI-2 accident and 23 years after the Chernobyl disaster, I feel obligated to formulate this guideline in order to protect the public from further irradiation from the use of nuclear power. The Chernobyl type reactors (RBMK), which are still operating, have to be shut down immediately because they do not satisfy this guideline. Other nuclear reactors operating and future designs shall be reviewed for compliance to this key requirement and the result of such review shall be defining for their future.
Aladar Stolmar

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Russia must cease operation of RBMKs
“I asked the general director Sergej A. Obozov of OAO Concern Energoatom: When they plan to end the operation of the RBMK type reactors?
I got the answer:
Currently the use of units 1 Kursk NPP, units 1 and 2 Leningrad NPP are already extended and there are work in progress aimed to extend the operation of other units in the Nuclear Power Plants Kursk and Leningrad and in addition the unit 1 of Smolensk NPP. The extension of operation of power plant units with the mandatory fulfillment of all the safety regulations gives an opportunity to obtain an electrical power installed for a fraction of the cost of a new unit from zero - $3000 for a kW (new power unit) compared to $300 (or about that) for the extension of operation.
The youngest RBMK unit is the Smolensk unit 3 started in 1990 with a design lifespan of operation 30 years. After the operating life depending on the condition of the non-exchangeable equipment and other consideration of preferences an extension of operation for 15-20 years is possible. Therefore, in case there will be an extension of operation decided for this power plant unit, the last RBMK reactor will be in operation until the year 2035-2040.”

This answer does not satisfy me and many other concerned individuals with knowledge of the real unsafe construction of RBMKs.
The financial crisis unfolding also gives a real opportunity to replace the unsafe RBMK units with safe VVERs, where the reactor is enclosed in a containment, sized for the maximum amount of zircalloy cladding reacted with steam and will withstand the explosion of generated Hydrogen-air mixture. The still operating RBMKs are as unsafe now as they were in the time of Chernobyl Disaster! The Russian Federation has to shut them down now!

My Chernobyl details the problems and available on and

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kirkus Discoveries review

Nuclear engineer Stolmar offers a concise version of the events that precipitated the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the prospects of the nuclear industry today.
Stolmar examines the design flaws that resulted in the explosion at Chernobyl, with a populist twist. Still, a degree of familiarity with nuclear physics goes a long way toward understanding his contention “that the zirconium-steam reaction was the governing process in all nuclear power plant severe accidents.” He explains the process: impeded water flow initiated a local power increase and a crisis in boiling, which led to a hugely volatile zirconium-steam reaction on the fuel cladding. Beyond that, the author notes, the reactor vessel was too weak to contain a failure and the reactor was uncontained. Yet incredibly, considering these basic design issues, twelve RBMK reactors of the type at Chernobyl are still active today. It is unclear what vested interests in Russia are keeping these plants in operation, and it would have been fascinating for Stolmar—who was born in Hungary and trained in Moscow—to expand on comments like, “[b]ehind our backs, or way above our heads, the intrigues and clan interests were played, so characteristic for the Communist totalitarian system,” regarding nuclear decision-making in the Soviet Union. Though the author’s prose has an appealing Eastern-European inflection, more polish would help lay readers understand the more arcane chemical reactions. Stolmar remains largely in support of nuclear power, which he sees as the only immediate, viable alternative to fuels that are peeding global warming and a way of turning swords to plowshares in decommissioning nuclear weapons. His call for international cooperation in the building and inspection of nuclear facilities is heartening, though spent fuel will be left “to our children as part of their inheritance,” a gift that keeps on decaying.
A thoughtful peek into the guts of a failed reactor and a cautionary tale.
Available on and