The Ergen Report, 1967 – ECCS, Meltdown studies.

The Ergen Report was published in 1967, the year construction of the Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant complex commenced.

The report represents the state of the art in meltdown prevention and meltdown process understanding at that time.

What, if anything, does this report say which may explain why the Fukushima Diiachi NPP complex was built where it was, with the technology included in its design?

Emergency core cooling : report
Author: W K Ergen; U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Advisory Task Force on Power Reactor Emergency Cooling.
Publisher: Oak Ridge, Tenn : USAEC, Division of Technical Information Extension, [1966?]
Edition/Format: Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database: WorldCat

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Nuclear reactors — Safety measures.
Nuclear reactors — Cooling.

Thanks to a friend in the USA, I now have the full text of the Ergen Report. Over the coming days I will upload the whole publication to this page of the blog.

From the Introduction of the Ergen Report:


Appointment and Charter of Task Force
On October 27, 1966, the Director of Regulation, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Harold L. Price, appointed a “task force to conduct a review of power reactor emergency core cooling systems and core protection.
The letter of appointment stated that
“Because of the increasing size and complexity of nuclear
power plants, the AEC regulatory staff and the Advisory
Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) have become increasingly
interested in the adequacy of emergency core
cooling systems and the phenomena associated with core
meltdown. As a result of extended consideration of these
matters by the staff and the ACRS, the Commission and the
ACRS have agreed that a task force should be set up t o review
certain aspects of these problems.

The charter of the Task Force is as follows:
1. To consider and advise the Commission on the following
topics :
The degree to which core cooling systems could be
augmented, by way of design modifications and/or
new design concepts, for additional assurance that
substantial meltdown is prevented.

The potential history of large molten masses of
fuel following a hypothetical accident.

The possible interactions of molten fuel with
materials or atmospheres in containments, and
phenomena associated therewith.

The design and development problems associated with
systems whose objective is to cope with large molten
masses of fuel.

2. To review existing information bearing on the topics listed
in 1.

3. To recommend a course of action to assure development of any additional information needed”.”

A salient feature of Fukushima Diiachi is it’s location between two streams, and upon an aquifer with a not inconsiderable rate of flow. What findings of the Ergen report comment upon the behavior of a molten core or cores such that siting a reactor complex upon a major aquifer might be seen as a safety related decision? For how long did the Ergen committee consider a molten core to be in a state of expansion? Page 166 -168 gives some clues:

1. Size of Molten Sphere in Various Soils 1
To illustrate the magnitude of the decay heat release from a 3,200Mwt
core in terms of the heat capacity of several common materials, the
size of a molten sphere containing one-hour-aged fission products was
calculated using dry sand and limestone as the heat absorbing material.
The model for this calculation assumed that the molten material in the
sphere was all at the melting temperature – 3,133 degrees F for dry sand and
4,4600 degrees F for limestone – and had the same density as the surrounding
material so that no settling or floating of the sphere would occur.
Conduction heat transfer from the sphere was included on the basis of
infinite medium surrounding the molten sphere. Fig. 1 shows the sphere
radius as a function of the time after shutdown for dry sand and limestone
as heat sink materials; the sphere radius for the adiabatic – i.e.
no conduction – condition is also shown for dry sand. These results
indicate that molten spheres of approx 60 ft diameter for limestone and
approx 90 ft diameter for dry sand would be required to absorb and dissipate
the decay heat from a 3,200 Mwt core. Also the growth of a molten sphere
would continue for a approx 20,000 hours under these conditions.”

End quote.

20,000 hours equates to 833 days. This was held to be true at the time the Fukushima Diiachi foundations were being dug out from the underlying aquifer. While aware of the consequences of ECCS faiure, the industry and government of Japan and the United States were busy telling populations that nuclear power was perfectly safe. In both Japan and the USA at the time, those who dared to utter a contrary view were liable to social and economic sanctions. Such sanctions were suffered by the “GE 3” and by people in Japan who fought against the Fukushima Diiachi project. These are facts of history. The alleged “Cold Shut Down” of Fukushima Diiachi has not yet occurred.

Of course, the industry will say great strides have been made in the study of ECCS and the behavior of molten cores since 196-67. The measure of that, I presume, is why Fukushima Diiachi was allowed to lay in its 1967 design state until March 2011. “Foresight appropriate to the undertaking?” I think not. And the rate of progress is also measured by the extent of knowledge regarding the location and disposition of the fuel from Reactors 1 to 3 at Fukushima Diiachi. Noone in Japan knows where it is. Neither does anyone at Los Alamos. Washington, Moscow, Canberra, or Paris. Tehran and Jerusalem, if they know, ain’t spilling the beans.

The myth of progress stands revealed in this and in the open nuclear sewer to the sea called Fukushima Diiachi.

As we shall see, the issue of core melt did not exist within the small power reactors built prior to the 1960s. With the advent of multi mega watt reactors, cores capable of not only boiling water, but of acting as blast furnaces capable of melting uranium, plutonium and the fission products, became commonplace. At the dawn of the blast furnace era, created largely to try to create some actual profit generating capability which small reactors did not possess, the AEC though it had better take a look at melt down. Meltdown which the industry ever since has attempted to assure the public could only ever happen in the movies. Meanwhile, as for the solvency of large core reactors, I am not an accountant. Best ask TEPCO and the taxpayers of Japan.

Lastly, before I begin uploading, the Ergen Report is concrete proof of “what was known and when” it was known. As the decades clicked by, nothing was done, apart from lying to the people of Japan. The risks of power generation by fission as means to boil water involves the risk of melting uranium and plutonium, steel, and most things else. I suppose the industry now would try to claim the AEC as a radiophobic enterprise. Even though it was disbanded for its failure to properly consider the safety of the public.

It will take a little time to upload all of the pages of the report as jpg images. There are somewhat more than 100 images.

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