Harper and shutdown Reactor for maintenance

Harper is heading for a catastrophe
Any car owner knows that regular maintenance is required to prevent major damage
Harper had the Chalk River reactor put back on line while it was down for required maintenance
This could lead to a Chernobyl type accident
While I feel sorry for the people who would have procedure's delayed because of a shortage of radioactive isotopes.
I don't want to see the first Canadian reactor melt down
There is only one upside to this disaster the Chalk River reactor is only 184 km from Ottawa
Quote: Originally Posted by stusa View Post

There is only one upside to this disaster the Chalk River reactor is only 184 km from Ottawa

Cool! Our Canadian politicians would finally get the opportunity to glow on the International stage. Two upsides.
I don't understand.
How does he even have a say in that? Does he work there? Has he inspected it himself, for the safe operation? (Obviously no)
Another example of meatball management.
Quote: Originally Posted by Brat View Post

I don't understand.
How does he even have a say in that? Does he work there? Has he inspected it himself, for the safe operation? (Obviously no)
Another example of meatball management.

That "meatball" analogy is very apt, Brat: good one

I was going to say something nasty like "he couldn't inspect his navel for lint:", but, hey, it's Christmas eh.........
Quote: Originally Posted by Brat View Post

I don't understand.
How does he even have a say in that? Does he work there? Has he inspected it himself, for the safe operation? (Obviously no)
Another example of meatball management.

To the best of my knowledge, he wouldn't have a say in it. As far as I know, power generation is under the jurisdiction of the province. Besides, power workers are unionised. The Union would raise holy hell if the government tried to pressure them into putting an unsafe reactor into operation.
The Chalk River Reactor makes isotopes, not electricity. It also sells reactors and services. It is owned and operated by AECL, which has little if anything to do with the Province of Ontario. I know people who work there in operations. I’m pretty sure they are in a union. If they are, I’m reasonably certain that the union would have better sense than to make claims that they are not competent to make. Our PM should have the same good sense.

Risk management tends to be a highly technical subject that employs probability models to assess risks. The basis of risk management is that everything fails given enough time. Anything that is complex has many components and each is subject to failure from many causes, and each has its own unique durability. All of these things taken together become a map of many disasters and routes to each that are waiting to happen. The only thing known for sure is that eventually a disaster will happen no matter what is done; maintain the dickens out of it and it will still end in disaster sometime.

What can be known (in terms of probability) are intervals of time that that it is very likely there will be a disaster and also the risk of being wrong. Managers make choices of designing sewer systems that are expected to overflow and flood every 20 years (a fairly common value) or allocate land for residential sub-divisions next to flood plains that are expected to flood every 100 years. The consequences of both these examples are not catastrophic and so substantial risks of being wrong are acceptable (being wrong means that the true intervals are shorter than estimated).

That basically is how it works. Managers of a risk prone facility get to say how often it’s acceptable to have a disaster and how likely it’s acceptable for them to be wrong. It is the nature of probability solutions (or at least those based on Classical Inference) that disaster in the very next instant is just as likely as a disaster an instant before the end of the estimated time interval. Seem non-sensical, but that's probability for you. So, I wonder what the time interval is that is acceptable for a melt down of a nuclear reactor to occur. Is a thousand years good enough, and who wants to be wrong anyway? Oh well, who cares, I’m just one of the people that fills the set of’ nobody really lives up there anyway.’

In the world of probability, every thing and every instant is a roll of the dice. It is easy enough to hop on the band wagon if our PM and say it calls for leadership, there was really no risk, it was all the result of those Liberal appointments anyway and we have to save all those lives that depend on those isotopes. Because the consequences of a reactor accident are catastrophic, a risk management model would provide for a very long interval with little chance of being wrong. In such a model, the probability of an accident at any given time is small. A small probability yes, but restarting the reactor was never the less a roll of the dice and a departure from the estimated risk management model.. A forced restart likely would have added slightly to the risks.

The world of probability is mind numbing, yes, and something nobody want to hear about yes? That’s why we have regulatory agencies that presumably employ people who are competent to assess and manage risks. But, our PM took that responsibility himself, and neither ne nor his advisors are almost certainly not competent to do so. The roll of the dice was a popularity contest. Remember New Orleans and the American hurricane. Remember the Prez and his Brownie who was doing a hellveofa job? Same deal here; we just didn’t have a Canadian meltdown. It’s called shooting craps. Sometimes you loose. Crap. Our PM. Leadership isn’t about rolling dice. Any idiot can do that.
Last edited by TomG; Dec 23rd, 2007 at 09:01 PM..Reason: When will I learn to proof read?
Very good Tom. That's a great explanation of the rationale employed by the safety commission and other regulatory bodies.

I wouldn't be too quick to lump it all on Harpers plate, the other parties of course could have voted the bill to re-open down. The problem is that there was a letter sent to Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn advising about the problem a full month before it was shut down, and then Minister Lunn signed off on a Government Document on October 31, nearly three weeks before the shutdown. In October the Minister knew about the problems. That is just bad management of a portfolio.
So, I’m sitting in my house writing away on my Mac last night. The house goes bump in the night--a good jolt that moved things around a bit. I thought maybe I just has a really great idea. My wife says, ‘WHAT WAS THAT?’ Good former resident of California, Denver, Mexico City etc. that I am, I say ‘I think it was an earthquake.’ Yes, last night we had an earthquake that almost certainly was felt at the Chalk River reactor site.

Several people here scoffed at the idea of shutting down a reactor for lack of specified safety systems that are intended in part to protect the reactor in event of earthquakes—saying ‘When was the last time they had one up there.’ The answer is every few years. The Ottawa River runs along a fault line.

The reactor was restarted by our PM against expert advice and while the regulatory agency was suspended. And then we had an earthquake. I wonder how close we were to a Canadian meltdown--probably not very, but considering the consequences, probably uncomfortable close.

I really don’t want politicians making these sorts of decisions; they inevitably come to take themselves seriously. Ideology becomes confused with thought; bullying and mean streaks is taken for leadership personalities; and rolling the dice is taken for strategic planning. God this PM reminds me of Bush. I wonder what reckless ideologically driven adventure will be next. I suppose this year we up here should be happy enough that we will have to put our turkeys in the oven tomorrow instead of enjoying them pre-roasted.

Dang, I have to edit this. So I go upstairs and my wife says that a jolt was felt about the same time as ours 20 miles away from us, but maybe there hasn't been a news story to verify that there was an earthquake. Whether there was or wasn't, I still don't want politicians fooling around with expert subjects that have potentially catistrophic consequences.
Last edited by TomG; Dec 24th, 2007 at 09:31 PM..
L Gilbert
No Party Affiliation
Yeah. Seems to me politicians have a habit of messing around with things they should keep their nonsensical noses the hell out of. (Scuse the grammar, but AFAIK, their aint none Inglish teechers here )
Soon the rest of the house will awaken, and we’ll start getting ready to go to Deep River for family Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas everyone. And Merry Christmas to me too. As it turns out I know an earthquake when I feel one.


The 3.6 quake was reported 22 km NE of Deep River, which puts it about 55 km from us and just across the River from the reactor. The quake occurred while the CTV news site had pictures of PM and family and high minded comments from the PM about never doing anything that keeps you from sleeping at night and the importance of maintaining integrity. Right.

I am hard on Harper because I lived with the military concept of commend responsibility during a four year voluntary enlistment. Military commanders are responsible for everything that happens in their commands even if they are unaware of the events and had no reason to expect them. Commanders are at least derelict in their duties if they failed to show adequate leadership that instilled adequate levels of discipline, skills, duty and morale in their commands. In the military Harper would likely be reprimanded for his reactor stunt.

The military concept of command responsibility makes good sense in environments of rigid hierarchies where a single lead possesses virtually all power and privileges of office and decision making. The concept makes good sense in the military, since you don’t hold debates if you’re getting shot at. The concept makes less sense in a supposed government of the people where things are supposed to be debated. But, Mr. Harper chooses to conduct himself imperially and doesn’t even stand before the people through the national news media. He took the perks and now he has the responsibility. Awake on the morrow Mr. Harper and go like one who hath been stunned, a sadder but wiser man. Wonder the earth for eternity and tell all who need to hear: an elected politician does not have the right to roll the dice and gamble with the lives of people he does not own. That is not a privilege or duty of office.

Now perhaps I’ll will have an even Merrier Christmas and see this become a national news story as it should; and again Merry Christmas everybody. At least the bright star in the east wasn’t a super-critical reactor.
No Party Affiliation
Another problem that I don't think has been mentioned is that Chalk River provides about three quarters of the world's medical isotopes and makes pretty good money at it. If we shut the place down for too long we might spawn some unwanted competition.

Similar Threads

No sign of North Korea reactor shutdown
by sanctus | Apr 17th, 2007
Scheduled maintenance today
by Andem | Feb 15th, 2005