Power Reactor Plutonium and nuclear detonation. Emu and Fukushima Diiachi Reactor Number 3.

Source 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Totem


Operation Totem was a pair of British atmospheric nuclear tests which took place at Emu Field, South Australia on 15 October 1953. They followed the Operation Hurricane test of the first British atomic bomb, which had taken place at the Montebello Islands a year previously.

The main purpose of the Totem trial was to determine the acceptable limit on the amount of plutonium-240 which could be present in a bomb. The plutonium used in the original Hurricane device was produced in a nuclear reactor at Windscale. This plant did not have anything like the capacity to provide sufficient material for the British government’s planned weapons programme, and consequently eight more reactors had been planned.

These were intended to produce both electricity and plutonium, and the design was known as Pippa, (for Pressurised Pile Producing Power and Plutonium). Construction of the first one started at Calder Hall in March 1953. However for cost reasons they were to operate in such a way that a higher proportion of plutonium-240 was to be present in the fissionable plutonium-239 product than in the Windscale-produced material. This was potentially a problem since plutonium-240 is prone to spontaneous fission, which would both present a criticality accident risk and reduce the likely yield of any weapon was containing it. Sir William Penney urgently obtained ministerial permission in December 1952, two months after the Hurricane shot, for the Totem tests to take place in October 1953.

The Totem tests tried two designs with different proportions of plutonium-240 in the pit. Since the Royal Navy were unable to provide the level of support which they had in the Hurricane test, the Montebello Islands used for that shot were ruled out. Instead a new site, originally given the codename X200 but later renamed Emu Field, was selected following surveys by Len Beadell and the British Army Survey Corps. An isolated dry, flat clay and sandstone expanse in the Great Victoria Desert, it was 480 km north west of Woomera, South Australia.

Because the site was on the Australian mainland, the Australian government required much more information than they had for the Hurricane test, including details of implosion principle behind the bomb’s design and much more information about nuclear fallout and radioactive contamination. The isolated location and poor roads meant that only 500 tons of the 3000 tons of equipment needed for the test arrived by road, the bulk arriving via the airstrip quickly constructed on the site (about 17 kilometers north west of the test field on a lake bed at 28°37′46″S 132°12′15″E). The main scientific party arrived on 17 August and the device for the first test arrived on 26 September to be followed three days later by Penney.

The two nuclear explosions were preceded by five smaller tests which formed part of a series codenamed Kittens, and which were performed without formal Australian Government approval.



Time: 21:30 on 14 October 1953 (GMT)
Location: Emu Field, Southern Australia 28°41′54″S 132°22′17″E [2]
Test Height and Type: Tower, 100 feet (31 m)
Yield: 9.1 kt

The Totem 2 (T2) test

The second test was also delayed because of poor weather. The yield was much bigger than the expected 2-3 kilotons, but again less than the estimated maximum of 10 kilotons.

Time: 21:30 on 26 October 1953 (GMT)
Location: Emu Field, Southern Australia 28°42′44″S 132°22′38″E [2]
Test Height and Type: Tower, 100 feet (31 m)
Yield: 7.1 kt

Second source: http://www.ricin.com/nuke/bg/bomb.html

For obvious reasons the reprocessing lobby has a few myths of its own concerning plutonium bombs, which have been repeated over and over again. As usual, their statements contain some truth and some suggestive half-truth, which together are to persuade you to draw the “right” conclusions. It is very interesting to examine the facts first and discover how such myths can be made up afterwards. Once you have developed some feeling for their methods, the nuke lobby propaganda becomes quite transparent, if not predictable……It should not be hard now to see how easy one may become misinformed by phrases like “Reactor grade plutonium contains too little fissile Pu-239 to make a bomb” or the more sophisticated “Reactor grade plutonium contains too much non-fissile Pu-240, which is not suitable because of its high spontaneous fission rate”. Sometimes it is argued that reactor grade plutonium is less attractive to work with, due to Pu-238 and 241 decay radiation. True as it may be, this is an inconvenience rather than a serious obstacle. If one can manage radiation in a reprocessing plant, a bomb manufacturing plant should not be too hard either.

The Totem I test

Los Alamos dissident J.C. Mark deserves most credits for warning us about the possibilities of using commercial LWR-produced plutonium in nuclear bombs. He disclosed a lot of information, notably about a US test involving LWR plutonium in 1962, writing:

“I would like to warn people concerned with such problems
that the old notion that reactor grade plutonium is incapable
of producing explosions — or that plutonium could easily be
rendered harmless by the addition of modest amounts of the
isotope Pu-240, or ‘denatured’, as the phrase used to go —
that these notions have been dangerously exaggerated.”
(In Feld et al, 1971, pp 137-138)

The British have performed a somewhat similar test. I found this story in a popular book about the Chernobyl disaster, written by a team of The Observer. The Totem test took place in 1953, just two years before the British Magnox system became commercially available. Magnox reactors used metallic fuel with relatively low burn-ups, commercially some 3-10 MWd/kg HM (comparable with the CANDU reactor). Their modern equivalents are the AGRs, which still use carbon dioxide cooling but have oxyde fuel instead of metallic. The Totem I plutonium must have contained at least 17% of Pu-240. Neither I, nor Greenpeace had heard of this story before, and that’s why it’s quoted here. Note how closely civil and military purposes can be linked. The French have behaved much the same.

“In 1953, Britain exploded a relatively small (12 kiloton)
bomb, code-named Totem I, in a hastly prepared desert site
at Emu. The choice of this site was imposed on the British
military because their previous island site at Monte Bello
had become too contaminated for re-use. Totem I had all the
elements of rush, secrecy, negligence and over-optimism
that characterized the atom bomb tests of the period. In
this case, the test was carried out to discover if
plutonium from civil reactors could be used to make atomic
bombs. Plutonium from [civil] Magnox reactors is not ideal
for bomb making. It is contaminated with the isotope
plutonium-240 which does not support fission as well as
plutonium-239. However, if the Totem test showed that
plutonium-240 could be used as a significant atom bomb
component, it would ‘lead to economies in the long run’,
the British defense minister Earl Alexander was briefed in
a very short top secret paper. Behind the test lay the
warning of Churchill’s scientific advisor Lord Cherwell
that a British rejection of nuclear power would be
‘national suicide’.

The Totem test worked. But it also sent a cigar-shaped
cloud drifting 150 km north over an Aborigine encampment
because the bomb had been exploded in unsuitable weather
conditions. The Aborigines experienced vomiting and
blindness and some were exposed to up to 80 rems of
radiation from the terrifying ‘black mist’ that enveloped
them. In addition, bomber pilots were required to fly
through the radioactive cloud to carry out measurements
for scientists on the ground. Unfortunately, the cloud
was much ‘hotter’ than anticipated and the planes were
contaminated and left unusable. Monitoring instruments
also proved to be inadequate. Some pilots and mechanics
were exposed to up to 50 rems of radiation which led Air
Vice Marshall Daley of the Australian Air Force to write
angrily to the British government: ‘We were firmly told
that this was not a hazard. Now it appears there was a
(N. Hawkes, a.o, The worst accident in the world,
London Observer, 1986, pp 58-59)
End quote


“ANALYSIS OF FUEL BEHAVIOR DURING REACTIVITY INITIATED ACCIDENTS” by L. B. Thompson, E. L. Tolman, and P. E. MacDonald, Aerojet Nuclear Co. March 1975”. (not so old.) On page 22 it states : “fuel pellet enthalpy has a positive influence coefficient with respect to maximum cladding temperature; that is, an increase in maximum enthalpy increases the maximum temperature. An increase in heat transfer coefficient or rod diameter causes a decrease in expected maximum temperatures. “ end quote.

Enthalpy is about the energy in a system. The energy density of the fuel pellet influences things in the reactor. Can this suddently change due to internal vibration (inter-pellet impact) of the fuel rod contents during earthquake? According to the followin patent, yes:

Patent 4587089 Fuel assembly for boiling water reactor Takeda et al.
Quote: “The present invention relates to a reactor. More particularly, the present invention relates to a reactor having a fuel assembly which is excellent in the safety, the resistance to earthquake, the stability, the fuel soundness and the fue leconomy.” ” It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a reactor in which the earthquake resistance of the core is improved and the change of the power at the transient stage is reduced.” “the safety, the earthquake resistance, the stability, the fuel soundness and the fuel economy can be improved by means described below according to the presentinvention.” “FIG. 8 shows a response displacement of the fuel assembly at the time of an earthquake in a reactor site where the difference of the characteristic frequency between a reactor building and the fuel assembly is 0.04 second.” end quote.

The patent admits the earthquake vulnerability of fuel pellets.

Is the method described in this patent immune to the effects of earthquake? Was this improved fuel in use at Fukushima Diiachi at the time the March 2011 quake struck?

link to patent : http://www.patentgenius.com/patent/4587089.html

The above is a series of findings I present as questions in response to the inadequate disclosures relating to the events which occurred at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power complex in March 2011.

The explanation given by Australian nuclear experts at the time of the explosion of reactor 3 – that the explosion was “normal” – is totally inadequate.

One Response to “Power Reactor Plutonium and nuclear detonation. Emu and Fukushima Diiachi Reactor Number 3.”

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