Singapore Considering Nuclear Power


Singapore Nuclear Power Plant

Japan has finally conceded defeat in the battle to contain radiation at four of its crippled reactors and they will be closed down.

  • Radioactivity levels in the ocean 4,385 times above regulatory limit,
  • Fisherman warned not to operate within 12 miles of plant,
  • Compensation claims could top $12bn,
  • Power firm’s shares lose 80% of value – may need government bailout, which means the Japanese tax payers will bear the full brunt.
  • U.S. sends specialist Marine unit to assist in decontamination.
  • Traces of radioactive particles found in U.S. milk.

Last August, Hooman Peimani, an energy security specialist at the National University of Singapore, presented a paper on the viability of underground nuclear reactors in Singapore at the Nuclear Power conference.

The thinking is that you could bury a small reactor in a shallow layer of bedrock, perhaps 30-50 meters underground. Then, if things at the plant go south for any reason, the granite will provide natural containment; simply cement in any access tunnels going down to the facility and walk away.

Is Singapore big enough

A nuclear power plant is typically sited 15 to 20 km away from heavily populated residential areas. Singapore has a total land area of about 700 square km.

There isn’t enough area to evacuate. In fact, if there is a nuclear incident, the southern part of Johor in Malaysia will also be affected.

Seriously where do we “walk away”? Run up north to Malaysia?

Water for cooling

Nuclear power plants need to have a cooling system in place to keep the plant from overheating. Basically there’s two types of cooling system:

  1. Once Through Cooling (OTC), and,
  2. Closed Cycle Cooling.

The first method uses up huge amount of water and correspondingly is very harmful to aquatic life.

The second method significantly reduces water consumption, though water need to be top up regularly due to loss by evaporation.

What about the Nuclear Waste

Even if it’s “safe” to bury the reactor underground in the bedrock, what about the nuclear waste?

Nuclear waste is a major concern simply because it’s not bio-degradable. Secondly, radiation from the waste is a health hazard for anyone who comes into contact with it.

So how do they dispose the waste?

  1. Deep ocean disposal,
  2. Deep geological burial, and,
  3. Nuclear waste recycling – not feasible at present because many countries do not have proper facilities to implement this method, and it is also a costly process.

Looks like, the nuclear will either be dumped out to sea or buried even deeper underground.

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