COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

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COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby The Reaper » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:30 am UTC

http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/12/china- ... ering.html
Outlining the container alliance CKYH’s decision to push ahead with super slow steaming, COSCO ceo and president Capt Wei Jiafu said that the move was in part a green one. He then went on to say that he was in favour of using nuclear power onboard merchant ships as a further green initiative. ‘As they are already onboard submarines, why not cargo ships?’ he mused. Later he spoke to Seatrade Asia Online and revealed COSCO is in talks with the national nuclear authorities to develop nuclear powered ships.

Earlier that morning Wei had said as much as 40% of the global total orderbook is under threat. Wei’s prediction is far higher than most analysts’ at present. He was speaking at the Senior Maritime Forum coorganised by UBM and Seatrade at this year’s Marintec China. Citing ‘financing and cash flow problems in medium and small sized corporations’ since the outbreak of the financial crisis, Wei said that his ‘personal feeling’ was that ‘about 40% of newbuilding orders will be postponed or cancelled this year and next year’. COSCO, itself, has cancelled 126 bulkers and postponed the delivery of a large swathe of boxships by one to two years.
The study showed that a nuclear ship would be $40 million per year cheaper to operate when bunker oil is at $500/ton.
Those studies had indicated improved economics when bunker fuel is over $300/ton. Bunker oil is currently about $375/ton. Also, changing to nuclear powered container ships would reduce air pollution by the equivalent of about 20,000 cars converted to electric per container ship that is converted.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Kyrn » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:31 am UTC

They better stop piracy first. I do not want to think about a hijacked nuclear ship.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:40 am UTC

I wonder if they factor in the cost of vastly increased regulations and protection that would have to go on those ships. Nuclear power is freaking awesome though, so it wouldn't surprise me if those are the number including all other costs.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Duban » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:40 am UTC

Kyrn wrote:They better stop piracy first. I do not want to think about a hijacked nuclear ship.

Yeah, that and I trust the US govt not to crash an aircraft carrier or nuclear sub more then a private company a merchant vessel.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:47 am UTC

Duban wrote:
Kyrn wrote:They better stop piracy first. I do not want to think about a hijacked nuclear ship.

Yeah, that and I trust the US govt not to crash an aircraft carrier or nuclear sub more then a private company a merchant vessel.


Why? Private Companies have a HUGE interest in not crashing their nuclear ships, as much or even more so than the government. Private Companies would probably never be able to cover up a crashed nuclear ship (whereas a government might) and the bad PR and y'know the huge amounts of lost money, life and equipment would be a massive detriment to the company.

Take for instance Branson's Virgin Galactic, if there is ever a single crash of the spaceship then so many people would cancel it's not funny. So it's in his best interest to provide the most perfect safety he possibly can. Whereas NASA can brush off accidents as 'Necessary in the pursuit of Science' like the army can brush of crashed subs as 'Martyrs in the fight against X'.

As long as the proper regulations were in place then there probably would be as much problem with this as there is with the government having nuclear powered vehicles.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:53 am UTC

Duban wrote:
Kyrn wrote:They better stop piracy first. I do not want to think about a hijacked nuclear ship.

Yeah, that and I trust the US govt not to crash an aircraft carrier or nuclear sub more then a private company a merchant vessel.

On the flip side, I trust a mechant vessel to be handled more gently and get in less trouble then a military one.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Kyrn » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:57 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:On the flip side, I trust a mechant vessel to be handled more gently and get in less trouble then a military one.


Though I expect a military vessel to be less affected by piracy too. Which is frankly my main concern, since navigation and whatnot will probably improve over time due to GPS and similar technologies, but pirates would also likely improve over time as well.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Duban » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:03 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:On the flip side, I trust a mechant vessel to be handled more gently and get in less trouble then a military one.

I understand what you're getting at, but we've had a fair share of crashed oil tankers creating ecological disasters in the past. Now Imagine if one of them were carrying a nuclear reactor that breached. Also I would think the govt would keep them well maintained until the end. A collapsing company couldn't afford to stop running the vessel even if they couldn't maintain the reactor. It only takes one event to cause a huge disaster.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:05 am UTC

Most piracy is done for income and not for terrorism... almost all pirates would have no clue that to do with a reactor or even just the nuclear ship itself. In fact if they realise it's a nuclear ship they might choose not to pirate it simply because the risk that would be associated with commandeering a nuclear ship would be ridiculously higher than a normal ship or just stealing stuff...

That and the worst you can do with nuclear reactors actually isn't all that bad (By which I mean, it's not like even very smart terrorists could make a nuclear bomb by commandeering a nuclear ship...).

So I'm not really worried about pirates at all. As long as regulations are in place for the handling of the reactor and it's safeguards etc. it won't be much of a problem at all.



Ninjaed: Duban -- If they happened they would go out of business, it would be 10,000x worse for PR than a crashed oil tanker. They would probably also face life destroying legal issues.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Sharlos » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:06 am UTC

What's so bad about pirates getting a small nuclear reactor?

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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:08 am UTC

It's not hard to imagine a nuclear reactor on a commercial vessel being forced to include safety measures that rendered shipwrecks still more or less completely safe. An oil tanker breaches and spills oil everywhere, a nuclear powered commercial vessel breaches and spills... Gap Jeans into the ocean? The reactor core isn't built out of tissue.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:09 am UTC

The risks associated with nuclear ships are approximately the same as the risks associated with nuclear power plants... ie. not all that risky as long as strict regulation and safeguards are in place.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby nowfocus » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:22 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Most piracy is done for income and not for terrorism... almost all pirates would have no clue that to do with a reactor or even just the nuclear ship itself. In fact if they realise it's a nuclear ship they might choose not to pirate it simply because the risk that would be associated with commandeering a nuclear ship would be ridiculously higher than a normal ship or just stealing stuff...

That and the worst you can do with nuclear reactors actually isn't all that bad (By which I mean, it's not like even very smart terrorists could make a nuclear bomb by commandeering a nuclear ship...).


This may be true now, but I imagine some terrorist groups would get interested in piracy if it meant they had a nuclear reactor at there disposal. If a ship like this comendeered of the coast of a major city and they caused a meltdown, wouldn't that be...bad? Obviously you could avoid this possibility with proper shutdowns and the like, but you need to consider the possibility.

Gelsamel wrote:Ninjaed: Duban -- If they happened they would go out of business, it would be 10,000x worse for PR than a crashed oil tanker. They would probably also face life destroying legal issues.


Remember, the corporation doesn't make decisions, people who work at the corporation do. A risk taking strategy makes a lot of sense for a CEO in this position, heads they win tails the company loses. See recent financial crisis for more information. You'd need some sort of laws that automatically implicate the entire senior management team to a mandatory sentence if these ships were captured.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Kyrn » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:29 am UTC

nowfocus wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:Most piracy is done for income and not for terrorism... almost all pirates would have no clue that to do with a reactor or even just the nuclear ship itself. In fact if they realise it's a nuclear ship they might choose not to pirate it simply because the risk that would be associated with commandeering a nuclear ship would be ridiculously higher than a normal ship or just stealing stuff...

That and the worst you can do with nuclear reactors actually isn't all that bad (By which I mean, it's not like even very smart terrorists could make a nuclear bomb by commandeering a nuclear ship...).


This may be true now, but I imagine some terrorist groups would get interested in piracy if it meant they had a nuclear reactor at there disposal. If a ship like this comendeered of the coast of a major city and they caused a meltdown, wouldn't that be...bad? Obviously you could avoid this possibility with proper shutdowns and the like, but you need to consider the possibility.


Not to mention that by putting it on a ship that gets hijacked, you get both transportation and the nuclear facility. And unlike a plane, you can't just shoot it down to prevent damages.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby BlackSails » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:33 am UTC

You cant shoot at boats?

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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:36 am UTC

nowfocus wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:Most piracy is done for income and not for terrorism... almost all pirates would have no clue that to do with a reactor or even just the nuclear ship itself. In fact if they realise it's a nuclear ship they might choose not to pirate it simply because the risk that would be associated with commandeering a nuclear ship would be ridiculously higher than a normal ship or just stealing stuff...

That and the worst you can do with nuclear reactors actually isn't all that bad (By which I mean, it's not like even very smart terrorists could make a nuclear bomb by commandeering a nuclear ship...).


This may be true now, but I imagine some terrorist groups would get interested in piracy if it meant they had a nuclear reactor at there disposal. If a ship like this comendeered of the coast of a major city and they caused a meltdown, wouldn't that be...bad? Obviously you could avoid this possibility with proper shutdowns and the like, but you need to consider the possibility.


Approximately as likely to happen as someone taking control of a nuclear power facility (ie. exceedingly unlikely) and a much less worse consequence. The risk is thus exceedingly exceedingly smaller than anything worth any amount of worry.

Gelsamel wrote:Ninjaed: Duban -- If they happened they would go out of business, it would be 10,000x worse for PR than a crashed oil tanker. They would probably also face life destroying legal issues.


Remember, the corporation doesn't make decisions, people who work at the corporation do. A risk taking strategy makes a lot of sense for a CEO in this position, heads they win tails the company loses. See recent financial crisis for more information. You'd need some sort of laws that automatically implicate the entire senior management team to a mandatory sentence if these ships were captured.


Except the financial crisis wasn't really a risk/gamble thing... it was purely a greed thing. In this situation greed would serve only to ensure that nothing bad would happen to the reactors because a reactor leak w/ consequences on a civilian ship is essentially automatic company death. Thus it is in their best and most greedy interests to ensure that these ships have the highest standards of safety.

Not that a law wouldn't be nice, just that without the law it's not like they'd suddenly start slinging nuclear reactors around the ocean haphazardly...




Ninjaed:

Not to mention that by putting it on a ship that gets hijacked, you get both transportation and the nuclear facility.


And the company would instantly report the position to a defence organisation and that boat would have the biggest target painted on it ever, which is a huge deterrent to any would be hijackers.



And unlike a plane, you can't just shoot it down to prevent damages.


Uh you pretty much could, reactors have huge amounts of safeguards and are really strong (this would be just normal regulated safeguards). Also it's not like the reactor takes up the entire huge ship...


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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:55 am UTC

Also bear in mind that the reactor(s) aboard a ship are much smaller then a power generation site. The Chernobyl reactors, for example, were each rated for 1GW. Reactors on ships tend to be more like 50MW-150MW. The worlds current largest container ships use 110MW from conventional sources.

Also, it's fairly easy to break a reactor without extensive knowledge, but making one explode/meltdown is harder - you'd have to know what you were doing, since most reactors (and, AFAIK, all modern ones) are fail-safe, not fail-deadly.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby kiklion » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:38 am UTC

I have more trust in the government then in businesses when it comes to avoiding disaster, because if a business were to have a disaster, they would simply shut down and the people behind the business would open another under a different name. It would be much harder to open up another government with the same people leading.

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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:50 am UTC

kiklion wrote:I have more trust in the government then in businesses when it comes to avoiding disaster, because if a business were to have a disaster, they would simply shut down and the people behind the business would open another under a different name. It would be much harder to open up another government with the same people leading.


And yet Bush got another 4 years... I think you shouldn't underestimate the government's scapegoating powers, the likes of which no private company has.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Le1bn1z » Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:35 am UTC

Some things to consider;

1.) International shipping is massively deregulated. Many sailors are from second-world or third-world countries and are dirt poor. Perhaps this explains why so many ships are so easily bought off for smuggling and....

2.) Piracy. Piracy is booming, and Somalia is the tip of the iceberg. The Straights of Singapore are also lousy with pirates, many of whom act in cahoots with disaffected sailors.

3.) Because shipping regs are so lax, its been easy for organised crime and terrorist organisations to opperate freely within it. The Tamil Tigers opperated 11 cargo ships for smuggling purposes.

Rebels on the Malay peninsula and Indonesia make a lucerative business out of piracy and stealing ships and cargos which, because of the lax regulation regime, are difficult to recover.

So, into this mess we want to put nuclear technology?

Having said that, stoping nukes from getting into NY Harbour might be an example of too little too late. Conventional cargos can easily produce nuclear-yield explosions.

The third most devestating explosion in human history took place in Halifax in 1917, when a fuel ship collided with a ammo ship, (they were both European. Bleeding useless) killing a sizable chunk of the population. That was with ships a fraction of the size used today, which also have the added advantage of being automated.

All someone need do is fill one ship with fuel and one with phosphate, set the computers for collision course, hop on a helicopter, and wipe out any given port city you care to name. Ugly.

We really, really, really need to clean up national controls over shipping, and end the absurd conservative-driven anti-regulation, non-supervised shipping regimen. Especially before we start letting nukes being driven by guys from Pakistan making 15 k a year be floated into Montreal, New York or Shanghai.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Nemiro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:33 pm UTC

Le1bn1z wrote:...
2.) Piracy... Somalia... Singapore... Disaffected crew...

Does it not follow that as Nuclear ships are likely to be more expensive, greater care will be taken in Crew selection?

Le1bn1z wrote:...
3.)...shipping regs are so lax... easy for organised crime and terrorist organisations to opperate freely within it. The Tamil Tigers opperated 11 cargo ships for smuggling purposes.
Rebels on the Malay peninsula and Indonesia make a lucerative business out of piracy and stealing ships and cargos which, because of the lax regulation regime, are difficult to recover.

I am inclined to believe that it might be easier to get Nuclear powered ships back from Pirates - they are unlikely, in my opinion, to suddenly shift from ransoming crew and ships to world-domination plans. Faced with a ship that they do not understand and possibly fear, they might be more keen on ransoming it.

Le1bn1z wrote:...
The third most devestating explosion in human history took place in Halifax in 1917, when a fuel ship collided with a ammo ship, (they were both European. Bleeding useless) killing a sizable chunk of the population. That was with ships a fraction of the size used today, which also have the added advantage of being automated.

You forgot to mention that initially everyone ran down to the docks to watch it burn. Today they would be kept away, either by the Police or by fear.

Le1bn1z wrote:...
before we start letting nukes being driven by guys from Pakistan making 15 k a year be floated into Montreal, New York or Shanghai.

A Pakistani who sends all his money back to his family, and needs that job.
These are not "nukes". There is a difference between Nuclear reactors and Nuclear weapons - as PhoenixEnigma said, it's hard to cause a melt-down, given that reactors are built to be fail-safe. Not only that, but (here comes some ignorance) I believe that there are in fact procedures for entering port, and ships ignoring communications, or bluffing, would be intercepted. Realistically, we're talking about reactors being restricted to rather large ships (which I hope would be clearly marked), which have to start preparing to dock miles away.
Just running into the dock-side isn't going to cause a massive explosion. It's just going to break the hull and part of the dock.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Alexius » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:45 pm UTC

There is one nuclear-powered cargo ship operating today- but it's an icebreaker that also carries cargo. In the 60 and 70s there were some more "conventional" nuclear cargo ships- the American Savannah, the German Otto Hahn and the Japanese Mutsu. None of them worked too well:
The Mutsu was only really a research vessel, and never carried commercial cargo. There were huge problems with protests from local fishermen.
The Savannah and the Hahn did operated commercially, but I don't think they ever made a profit. The Savannah is being turned into a museum ship, and the Hahn still exists- but with a diesel engine.

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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Kyrn » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:57 am UTC

Nemiro wrote:Does it not follow that as Nuclear ships are likely to be more expensive, greater care will be taken in Crew selection?

Unfortunately, not necessarily (it all comes down to whether insurance or profit is sufficient to balance the cost of disasters. See examples of companies deciding that the cost of litigation is lower than cost of fixing a problem). Which is why we ask for regulations first before implementing nuclear ships.

I am inclined to believe that it might be easier to get Nuclear powered ships back from Pirates - they are unlikely, in my opinion, to suddenly shift from ransoming crew and ships to world-domination plans. Faced with a ship that they do not understand and possibly fear, they might be more keen on ransoming it.

Alternatively, they may "ransom" it to other groups who might be willing/eager to get said ships.

My issue is not with pirates directly. My issue is that other groups may opt to control such ships (or their contents), whether via pirates or otherwise.

I'd think that if arms smuggling still occurs via ships, they could probably do more than smuggle arms...

[EDIT]
Le1bn1z wrote: 2.) Piracy. Piracy is booming, and Somalia is the tip of the iceberg. The Straights of Singapore are also lousy with pirates, many of whom act in cahoots with disaffected sailors.

Just have an issue with the implication of the Straits of Singapore.
1) It's both Straits of Malacca and Straits of Singapore. The Straits of Singapore is but a small fraction of the whole affected area.
2) Piracy has been going down significantly around these areas as well, so it's not really a valid point either. Reference: Wikipedia, TIME
[/EDIT]
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:25 am UTC

Who, exactly, are we worried about having access to these reactors?

Pirates? Their techological specialists operate GPS devices, not nuclear reactors. Ther've also, generally, shown an inclination to be as responsible as possible in order to ensure they get their ransoms.

Terrorists? A ship-based nuclear reactor isn't all that useful, as has been mentioned. They aren't readily explosive, aren't that hard to track if you need to, and really, aren't much (if any) more dangerous then a conventional ship. To do anything useful would require country-level resources, which brings us to . . .

Rogue states? We're willing to help North Korea build LWR reactors - the same type used in almost all ships - on a scale an order of magnitude larger. This should say something about how inonculous these reactors are.

ETA: On the subject of previous ventures not being viable - I think the point here is that fuel prices have finally hit the point where nuclear shipping makes sense.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Diadem » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:02 am UTC

If I was a terrorist with nuclear aspirations, I wouldn't target a ship. Once hijacked, I would never get it into port, and making it explode in the middle of the ocean isn't going to impress many people (it's going to fuck the environment some, but it's not going to cause massive terror).

No, instead I would make sure I had a few dozen highly trained men, and then I would attack a nuclear power plant. Attack and quickly round up the crew (Taking them hostage might delay a response from the authorities). Quickly set explosives at the primary, secondary and tertiary cooling systems and use the rest of your man to keep the police away. If the authorities are smart they'll quickly respond by bringing in the military, but that'll still take them a few minutes. Long enough to blow up all the cooling systems.

Now if you can manage to sabotage the control rods themselves, you've hit jackpot, and you'll be rewarded with a nuclear disaster that'll make Chernobyl look like child's play. But even if you won't be able to do that, you'll still create a sizeable nuclear disaster.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:10 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Detailed terroism plans


You know those men on your doorstep? Yeah, the ones in the dark suits? They'd like to have a chat with you.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Vieto » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:11 am UTC

I think the simple answer to all of these problems is to give these ships only a little more than enough Uranium to make it to the next port (with a back-up deisel engine). All the world's nuclear reactors in the world are nothing more than giant slabs of concrete without any Uranium to run them.

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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby The EGE » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:29 am UTC

This is not a private corporation that's looking to get nuclear-powered cargo ships. COSCO is effectively run by the Chinese government.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Cynical Idealist » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:34 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Now if you can manage to sabotage the control rods themselves, you've hit jackpot, and you'll be rewarded with a nuclear disaster that'll make Chernobyl look like child's play. But even if you won't be able to do that, you'll still create a sizeable nuclear disaster.

Depends on the reactor design, really. Some designs physically cannot melt down, and most designs have at least some passive safety built in. There are a few conventional designs that don't require operator intervention for at least three days even if all the coolant is lost. Pebble-bed reactors don't give a shit if you manage to disable cooling entirely. They heat up, but as they heat up, the reaction slows down, so they eventually reach an idle temperature and stay there. That temperature is well below the failure point of the containment or the pebbles themselves.

Vieto wrote:I think the simple answer to all of these problems is to give these ships only a little more than enough Uranium to make it to the next port (with a back-up deisel engine). All the world's nuclear reactors in the world are nothing more than giant slabs of concrete without any Uranium to run them.


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That solution just isn't feasible. You need a large enough mass of fuel for a chain reaction to occur, and you also need enough fissioning fuel to generate enough heat to run the engines in the first place. And if you've got enough fuel for that, you've got enough to last for years. Its not like an internal combustion engine, where you only need a minuscule amount of fuel per stroke and you can just set the amount of fuel in the tank to control how long it can run.

Also, keep in mind that the fuel doesn't disappear. The mass is slightly reduced (but not actually all that much), but its sitting there as byproducts that are much more dangerous than the original fuel (because they have half-lives on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands of years, instead of a few billion years, making them much more radioactive).
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Diadem » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:14 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:
Diadem wrote:Detailed terroism plans

You know those men on your doorstep? Yeah, the ones in the dark suits? They'd like to have a chat with you.

Hehe, it's one of my hobbies to think about stuff like this. I know several very good ways to disrupt of society, and my father and I once worked out the number of people needed for a coup d'etat. Those are fun things to do.

For example outing the power in a major city is extremely trivial. With a few hours of preparation you can do it with a group of half a dozen people, in under 5 minutes. And you'll never be caught. Though they'll restore it in a few hours at most as well. Still a good practical joke for a group of bored students :lol:

Our Western society is much more vulnerable than most people know.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Kyrn » Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:35 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
PhoenixEnigma wrote:
Diadem wrote:Detailed terroism plans

You know those men on your doorstep? Yeah, the ones in the dark suits? They'd like to have a chat with you.

Hehe, it's one of my hobbies to think about stuff like this. I know several very good ways to disrupt of society, and my father and I once worked out the number of people needed for a coup d'etat. Those are fun things to do.

For example outing the power in a major city is extremely trivial. With a few hours of preparation you can do it with a group of half a dozen people, in under 5 minutes. And you'll never be caught. Though they'll restore it in a few hours at most as well. Still a good practical joke for a group of bored students :lol:

Our Western society is much more vulnerable than most people know.


Yes, but much of progress would have been slow, if not outright impossible, without some level of trust. :P
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:29 am UTC

Well obviously you can't make a nuclear bomb out of a nuclear reactor, simply because the nuclear fuel is not enriched to weapons-grade level. But I can think of a few rather nasty things terrorists might do with it if they were so inclined. They could harvest the fuel to make a dirty bomb - if they're suicide bombers I don't suppose they'd be too worried about being exposed to radiation in the process. They could park the ship off-shore and start a meltdown - I don't know how easy this is to do, but sabotaging the cooling system and removing the control rods would be a good start.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:55 am UTC

A lot of the posts on here are showing staggering ignorance of the reality of nuclear power; Jeez guys, you could at least read the related wikipedia articles to get a vague grounding.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:02 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:A lot of the posts on here are showing staggering ignorance of the reality of nuclear power; Jeez guys, you could at least read the related wikipedia articles to get a vague grounding.

... I did
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:20 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:A lot of the posts on here are showing staggering ignorance of the reality of nuclear power; Jeez guys, you could at least read the related wikipedia articles to get a vague grounding.

... I did


I wasn't aiming at you specifically, because everything you say is technically possible*

*Though impractical, for instance Harvesting the fission products from a reactor which would almost certainly be a sealed unit (as per most military, and all civilian ice breaking ship reactors) would require the chain reaction to be ended, the reactor to be cooled and the pressure vessel and neutron shield to be opened and removed, a process that would take weeks and specialised expertese. Simply cutting into the vessel with an oxygen lance, would release massive amounts of superheated steam, which would be immediately lethal, subsequently trying to remove the fuel elements without cooling and moderating them would also expose personel to amounts of ioniszing and heat radiation which would be disabling if not lethal in significantly less time that needed to remove the element.

Causing a meltdown is quite possible with the right knowlege, but even if one overode all the failsafes and forced a reactor to faildeadly on a vessel, a meltdown on a ship would very quickly melt the hull and drop the reactor into the sea. Conveniently water is a brilliant moderator of radiation, as evidenced by every pool type reactor.

Sorry for coming across as a bit of a know-all, But I spent a significant portion of my childhood near Windscale/Sellafield asking a lot of difficult questions; and now have two professors with various interests in Nuclear Chemistry/Physics for their own research purposes.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:23 am UTC

And even then there are designs you can use that make it even more difficult than that.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby BattleMoose » Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:29 pm UTC

Cargo vessels are much less manueaverable than military ones and they do crash in bad weather and storms, we have had a few grounded on our cape (Cape Town, South Africa) in the past few years. It does happen and leaking oil and it fucking up the local environment has and is a very real concern.

I don't think we would want to even risk a radiation leak in such a circumstance. And this is coming from a very pro nuclear power individual.

Although the obvious solution would be to insist a minimal amount of manueaverability and power from a nuclear powered cargo vessel.

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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:10 pm UTC

The Reactor vessel is damn-near invulnerable, crashing isn't going to pose much risk of radiation leaks because modern naval reactors are over-engineered to a frankly absurd degree. And new passively-safe construction techniques can ensure that even catastrophic structural failures won't breach the reactor vessel.

In fact, nuclear cargo ships would probably be far safer for the environment since they won't leak fuel all over the place whenever they get slightly scraped.
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Re: COSCO's Nuclear Fleet

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:26 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:The Reactor vessel is damn-near invulnerable, crashing isn't going to pose much risk of radiation leaks because modern naval reactors are over-engineered to a frankly absurd degree. And new passively-safe construction techniques can ensure that even catastrophic structural failures won't breach the reactor vessel.

In fact, nuclear cargo ships would probably be far safer for the environment since they won't leak fuel all over the place whenever they get slightly scraped.


Unless of course their cargo happens to BE fuel. :P
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