What happens when a Nuclear Power Plant fails?

This morning in my town of San Clemente the air raid sirens went off unexpectingly due to a mechanicle error in the siren. There was no real danger but they are for the nuclear power plant south of us called S.O.N.G.S. In the event that the power plant did catch fire, or failed in any way what would my town be ordered to do and what is the danger of it?

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9 Responses to “What happens when a Nuclear Power Plant fails?”

  1. Chandramohan P.R said:

    Nuclear plants are provided with many safety features that it protects itself by shutting down the reactor in case of any emergency.
    If any parameters go beyond the normal range alarms are sounded, operators and engineers watch the controls, they take action if the automatic system fails.
    During Tsunami, a plant in India was safely shut down with out any problems.
    But there are unknown emergencies like explosion, fire, leak of radiation which may affect the near by places.

  2. bbullough said:

    By law the power plant has to have an emergency action plan on file with the city/town, and it is to be available for public access. It will have all the possible events and the impacts and the actions required. If you are interested, go to city hall and ask to see a copy.

    When Three Mile Island unit 2 failed, the only thing that happened outside the facility fence was a minor emission of radiation. It was smaller than the “continual” emission that occurs from a power plant that burns coal or natural gas, and smaller than the radiation you would get from an airplane flight or from living in a brick or stone house. That was the 2nd biggest, nastiest nuclear power plant accident to ever occur. The worst was of course Chernobyl; a Chernobyl-type incident cannot happen with a western-designed reactor, for a variety of reasons. Rest easy.

  3. well, accordn 2 mah calculations said:

    Most likely your town will proceed as usual, but be short on electricity for a while. There are three very secure ways of stopping a reaction, all of which involve inserting various materials and treating the reactor untilno energy remains. If however things indeed go for the worse, here are your solutions. much of this will depend on the type of reactor near your home.

    a) do nothing

    many reactors today, possibly like yours, are designed to produce minimal amounts of energy, therefore reqire very small reactions, small reactors, and this plays right into the hands of safety. these reactions are usually encased in structures just as strong as your large reactors but on a smaller scale. Also, due to large scares in hte 1950’s onward with the power of nuclear weapons, and the soviet union, along with the aging reactors and problems other comunities have had, massive amounts regulations and upgrades have been made, along with many movements to remove nuclear power altogether. With all this pressure to improve quality, you are in little danger because of:

    the reactor is enclosed in defensive shielding equivilent to the stuff you would imagine Hitler’s underground bunker would have been like under the Riechstagg, or something out of the Deathstar, it’s rediculous. They though long and hard ablout Murphy’s law (anything that can go wrong, probably will) and made sure even iff a small plane flew into the building containing the reactor, nothing should happen.

    2nd possibility is that someone did something stupid and spilled radioactive material, or their was a breack due to some explosion inside the building (highly unlikely) the area would be cordoned off and sealed with massive steel doors and protective walls (there is no direct rout through any two doors into the reactor) and teams would be sent in to remove all harmful materials.

    If all goes terribly wrong, and radioactive material breaches all barriers and the fallout spreads toward your city, (assuming you happen to have a southerly (form the south) wind which is also unlikely unless you are in California or in a more tropical area) the city would be evacuated to the best of the local authorities ability, and the wheels would start to turn. for many years millions of people have voiced concerns about many of these things, and in developed countries, wherever thier is a nuclear power plant, all nearby comunities have been provided anti- radiation tablets and there is many millions in charity money ready to be brought to the aid of stricken peoples.

    These are the most likely, upwards of 95%. in the smallest of margins, less than 0.001% about the likelyhood that Russia packs up and invades China, your nearby power plant suffers a catastrophic failure, resulting in a mini-nuclear fission reaction producing a blast similar to Hiroshima. Remember there are also hundresd of checxks to make sure that never happens.

    Remember, whoever works at that place has family nearby, if they even had a minor inkling of a feeling about anything wrong, there would be immediate reaction.

    there is little to worry about

  4. Irv S said:

    Those plants are designed to shut down and contain radioactivity on failure.
    In the event of a ‘leakage’ problem, pay attention to the wind direction.
    Any dangerous material will be mostly wind borne.
    Try not to be downwind of the plant. If you are, ‘get out from under’.

  5. Nerd L said:

    Nuclear bomb

  6. tanglelegs said:

    I have done too much explaining today so as simple as possible…Biga-bada-boom!

  7. U235_PORTS said:

    Nuclear power plants can have failures like any other industrial facility or electrical generating plant. There can be fires, or vehicle crashes, or short circuits, or spills of hazardous materials. However, a nuclear power plant cannot, under any circumstances, ever explode like an atom bomb. Specifically, the SONGS nuclear plant cannot, under any circumstances, have the core catch fire and spread contamination through San Clemente. It is not possible, it can’t happen.

    Some areas around nuclear power plants in the US were provided potassium iodide pills for people to take as a precaution against being exposed to radioactive Iodine-131 from a core breach. The iodine in the pills saturates the thyroid gland and prevents it from absorbing the radioactive iodine. However, the pill only protects against this one thing and is NOT a catch-all “anti radiation” pill. For most people with a decent diet, their thyroid is already saturated with iodine from iodized salt that most people eat every day.

    In the event the sirens activate for real, you have two choices. First, you can try to evacuate. However, in my opinion, you just risk exposing yourself to the very dangers that you are trying to run away from because the roads will be jammed. Second, you can stay in your home with all the windows and doors closed. If you stay put for 48 hours and allow any hazardous gases to pass you by and dissipate, you will be fine.

    Exposure to radiation from the plant in even the worst accident is trivial compared to naturally occurring radiation levels in many parts of the world. Worst case is you have to take a shower to wash off any external contamination. It’s really not as bad as the fearmongers would have you believe.

  8. Nukemann said:

    First of all nuclear reactors cannot explode like Hiroshima, it is physically impossible. The plants in the US are designed to minimize any risk of radiation release, but are required to train for any eventuality. They are required to have an Emergency Response Plan in place and practice at least twice a year, being observed by regulators at least once a year to ensure proficiency.
    There are 4 Emergency Classifications for any Nuclear Power Plant event.
    1. Unusual Event – This is the least serious, no release of radiation is expected. Examples are sustained high winds or a fire anywhere on the property that cannot be verified out within 15 minutes.
    2. Alert – Slightly more serious, no release of radiation is expected, a safety system may be degraded.
    3. Site Area Emergency- More serious, safety systems are degraded and may release radiation to the site, not expected to extend outside the plant boundaries.
    4. General Emergency – The most serious, safety systems have been compromised, radioactive release outside the plant boundary is possible or eminent.
    The sirens mean to turn on the radio, TV or log on to the computer to find out what actions you need to take. You may be asked to “shelter in place” meaning stay indoors until told otherwise or evacuate to a safer location in the event of a General Emergency.You should take the time to read the emergency information which is sent out every year to those people living within the emergency planning zones to ensure you understand what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency.

  9. chandana said:

    nuclear plant fails……DISASTER…

  10. Joshua Herrera said:

    Im not quite agree, but well that is just me. Good writing though.. 🙂


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