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Pakistan Builds Nuclear Reactors In Karachi, Sparking Fears of Disaster 122

schwit1 writes World leaders have fretted for years that terrorists may try to steal one of Pakistan's nuclear bombs and detonate it in a foreign country. But some Karachi residents say the real nuclear nightmare is unfolding here in Pakistan's largest and most volatile city. Of all places to locate a nuclear reactor, they argue, who could possibly make a case for this one — on an earthquake-prone seafront vulnerable to tsunamis and not far from where al-Qaeda militants nearly hijacked a Pakistan navy vessel last fall.
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Pakistan Builds Nuclear Reactors In Karachi, Sparking Fears of Disaster

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  • ...not a bug.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Sunday March 08, 2015 @08:40AM (#49208995)

    This must be the most moronic article I've read in a long time.

    3/4 of the way down the text it says the only relevant piece of information: "Minhaj said concerns about the effect of a tsunami are also overblown because the new reactors are being built on a rock ledge about 39 feet above sea level."

    That's 12m above the sea. The tsunami generated by a mag 9.0 earthquake is expected to be between 0.9m and 7m high - so the plant will have 5m margin ABOVE THE WORST CASE.

    Shut up everyone, you've been lied to.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but let's be honest this is really an, "Only the white man can be trusted with high tech!" article.

      Never mind who actually ends up building and then using the deadliest weapons. It's DIFFERENT then because we're only using them on the sort of savages who want to build and use the deadliest weapons...

      • I don't care if they're white, black, brown, yellow, green or polka dot. What matters is that it is a borderline failed state that is about to be overrun by Salafist fanatics. Those guys, if they get their hands on a nuclear weapon, will use it. Especially if they're ISIS-brand of apocalypse now believers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by burni2 ( 1643061 )

      And you are only concentrating on one point, you find inconclusive, and this is your basis to call everyone to shut up?

      If you would have taken the time, and glimpse at a satellite image of that region, you might have recognized that the surrounding area has a nice beach style "ramp" on the west side.

      a nuclear power plant needs cooling == fresh water
      a tsunami will suck all water from the beach for approx 30s
      a tsunami will struck down the surrounding grid (== fukushima)
      a failing over flodded backup generator

      • by zm ( 257549 ) on Sunday March 08, 2015 @09:22AM (#49209095) Homepage
        A brand new 21st century reactor != Fukushima Daiichi 1960 BWR design. Nor 1950's RBMK design for that matter. Misleading panicky comparisons lead nowhere.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          On the other hand, apparently they are too cheap to build the wall a few metres higher. What other corners are being cut? Does not inspire confidence.

      • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Sunday March 08, 2015 @09:26AM (#49209105)

        The nuclear power plants will be ACP1000s. There is half a century of experience between the ACP1000 and the BWR-3/4 used in Fukushima Daiichi. And wouldn't you know it, there have been improvements in the meantime!

        http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-... [nucnet.org]

        It's a combined passive and active design, it doesn't need power to cool the reactor or the containment, but it has powered cooling systems in addition to the passive ones. -> NOT FUKUSHIMA.
        A backup generator that is above the Tsunami will not be flooded and will not fail because of flooding because it isn't being flooded. -> NOT FUKUSHIMA.
        An emergency stop of a nuclear reacto needs cooling or it will melt the core, which is being provided for in a much more adequate fashion than in Fukushima. -> NOT FUKUSHIMA.
        The ACP1000 is a pressurized reactor in a large dry containment, that can contain a molten core without overpressurizing the containment. It is not a small "pressure supression" containment that has been known since at least 1966 to be unable to contain a molten core - which is a statement made by none other than the vendor, General Electric. -> NOT FUKUSHIMA.

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

          The nuclear power plants will be ACP1000s. There is half a century of experience between the ACP1000 and the BWR-3/4 used in Fukushima Daiichi. And wouldn't you know it, there have been improvements in the meantime!

          "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

          Douglas Adams

          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            Well shit, Douglas Adams said it, I guess it applies to everything. We're not going to make any improvements over past designs.

        • Westinghouse, not GE.

          • by tp1024 ( 2409684 )

            Westinghouse has build Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR), including the ones in Three Mile Island (at least for the most part, it's possible they build some experimental BWRs at the beginning). But the Boiling Water Reactors were designed and build by General Electric. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Have they actually build one, flooded it and cut off all external power and cooling to see what happens? If not, why not? Destructive testing of failure modes is basic engineering.

        • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

          Please lay out the physical principles on an engineers level! Stating something isn't simply possible because it simply is a newer design isn't engineer worthy. (it's the why'se and becauses that count)

          And actually, argumentation that fails to adress the Y's mostly stinks.

          1.) a backup generator, when not running hot but been put in "warm" start condition, will NOT fail to start ?
          - it has a chance of not starting
          - it has a chance of producing an /internal/ grid fault when being connected to the internal gri

          • by tp1024 ( 2409684 )

            1) The point about the design is that power isn't necessary to cool the reactor, but there are at least 3 emergency generators. (Because of their similarities, the ACP1000 has recently been consolidated with the APC1000 design into the "Hualong One" and the exact details aren't yet available in non-chinese documents.)

            I fail to see how the coastline of Fujian has any bearing whatsoever on a power plant in Pakistan.

            2) It is, in essence, a standard pressurized water reactor with passive peripherials that don'

      • by Anonymous Coward
        a tsunami will suck all water from the beach for approx 30s

        Not always - only if the wave has a leading trough will it do that. Waves generated on the opposite side of the fault will be 180 degrees out of phase and have a leading crest, and will arrive at the shore without any visible warning.
    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Sunday March 08, 2015 @09:19AM (#49209079) Journal

      https://www.google.co.uk/searc... [google.co.uk]

      leads to:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new... [telegraph.co.uk]

      132.5foot = 40.4meters, that's a bit more than 0.9m or 12m. Normal waves can reach 10m in many places.

      Perhaps you should 'shut-up' and check your facts.

      And for good measure:
      Pakistan-earthquake-2013-creates-new-18m-high-island-Gwadar-coast-Arabian-Sea [dailymail.co.uk]

      And
      https://books.google.co.uk/boo... [google.co.uk]
      ""The trading towns of Pasni and Ormara, Pakistan, located 100 km away from the epicentre, were flooded by a ~15.0m high wall of water""

      Still think it's a good place to put a nuclear reactor?

      • by tp1024 ( 2409684 )

        Be careful, a Japanese tsunami might flood New York!

        Tsunamis can be very tall in very specific places, depending on the geometry. Which is something you could have figured out by yourself, because the article is extremely specific "Omoeaneyoshi district of Miyako City, in Iwate Prefecture".

        The point where the nuclear power plant will be build is not a place like the Omoeaneyoshi district of Miyako City, in Iwate Prefecture - which is not at all surprising, because such places are rare. And by the way, Pasni

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

          You know the other reactor built to withstand a Tsunami - Yeah, Fukushima, they said there would never be a Tsunami big enough to do it any harm. Was it true? No.

          Karachi is exposed to tsunami's coming from the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. To say the geography bears no resemblance when the places mentioned are geographically nearby on the same coast is quite frankly absurd - India was hit by 11meter tsunami from the same earthquake that wiped away Pakistani towns and the whole area is seismically active.

          Map

          • Tsunami amplitude is a result of the topography of the ocean floor near the coastline and the shape of the coastline itself. All coastlines are exposed to tsunamis, but they only get very big in a limited number of places. Even in Japan, just short distances from the places where the tsunami did great damage, were other coastal areas that saw a much smaller wave height.
            • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

              Yes and the ocean floor topography next to Karachi looks much like that where the 15m Tsunami swept away 2 towns on the same coast.

              They've already said Karachi could be hit by 7m tsunamis, I'm not convinced that this isn't potentially a low estimate considering the sizes of past tsunamis in the surrounding region (15m to 30 meters)

              • Do you have information that shows the topography is the same, or is that an assumption?
                • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

                  Do you have evidence that they couldn't be a large Tsunami or is that an assumption?

                  • I did not say there could not be one. I don't have the information to say there can or cannot. Do you?
                    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

                      I've already covered this plenty and given lots of links showing that the area is heavily seismic and has a history of large tsunamis. So, yes, see previous posts.

                    • "the area" is the problem. Like I said, specific topology and history of the selected location, not the general area, is a very important consideration that you just conveniently gloss over.

                      Like I said, there was coastline in "the area" of the Tsunami in Japan that because of its topology did not see the amplitude that areas like the Fukushima coast did. Sorry if those details make your point more difficult, its simple fact.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        IUTBATM... I used to be a tsunami modeler.

        There isn't a 1:1 relationship between earthquake magnitude and runup. There are some rules of thumb, but it depends on the faults in the area, if there is risk of landslides, the geometry of the ocean floor, the topography around the power plant, if the risk comes more from local earthquakes or ones on the other side of the ocean basin....

        Hopefully, whoever quoted the numbers for Pakistan has already done the study for the region; I haven't worked too much in that

      • You do realize the height of a tsunami is dependant on the wavelength of the wave and the depth of the seafloor, that means the same wave can produce drastically different wave heights at different locations.

      • Still think it's a good place to put a nuclear reactor?

        Yes of course. What better place to put a new modern reactor than on an existing nuclear installation with all existing infrastructure in place in the aid of long term decommissioning of older unsafe 1970s era technology. All your supposed risks and problems can be mitigated by engineering. Taking into account of tsunamis is just another thing that needs to be done when already taking into account all other environmental factors such as weather, ground condition, long term erosion, atmospheric corrosion, et

  • Give me more fear (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The al-Qaeda militants would probably scale a mountain to try and reach this reactor. It really doesn't matter if it's build near a military base or near a Saudi royals palace. It's a target.

    What you do however is treat that nuclear plant like a major asset, and have military garrison around it. Deter al-Qaeda, deter Greenpeace, deter crazy assholes in general. Why not deter your own corrupt military officers from trying to sieze you by the balls in the process?

    • It's a power generation plant. I don't see how this is any worse than having a giant coal generator, except that the coal generator poisons the area around it slowly during normal operation rather than suddenly during catastrophic failure.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        I don't see how this is any worse than having a giant coal generator,

        You answer your question.

        except that the coal generator poisons the area around it slowly during normal operation rather than suddenly during catastrophic failure.

        That's it exactly. No one cares about long-term, slow carcinogen exposure. No one cares about a death here and there, year after year. We do care about 9/11-style events or big mushroom clouds.

        It doesn't matter whether the death toll is the same. Fukushima/Chernobyl were FLASHY. A coal plant? Boring. It makes air quality bad, and kills us in ways that aren't easy to quantify.

  • It's being built 20 miles outside Karachi. Describing it as being 'in Karachi' is like describing something in Covington as being 'in New Orleans'.

    And for those who don't live in the area, Covington is across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Of course it's not downtown right next to Town Hall. But if a central goes atomic bomb 20km from where you live, you'll have more important problems than "is it technically in 'in Karachi.'" bikeshedding.

    • At the scale of big cities, 20 miles is not that far away.
      London for example is 25 miles wide.

      • 25 miles is suburban Melbourne.
    • Re:In Karachi? (Score:5, Informative)

      new orleans

      Population (2013)[1]
          City and Parish 378,715 (US: 51st)
          Metro 1,240,977 (US: 45th)

      karachi

      Population (2013)
          Total 23,500,000[1]
          Rank 1st (Pakistan), 2nd (World)

      new orleans is a cute little rural suburb compared to karachi

      having driven to new orleans a number of times, i've seen myself that 20 miles out from new orleans it is nothing but scrub and mangroves. i can understand within new orleans itself you feel like you are in a dense city, because there's nothing else around, and you're the center of that area of the country. but this is a provincial judgment

      world cities are mind blowing compared to american cities

      here in new york city, a huge fucking megacity by usa standards but a puny light weight by world standards, 20 miles out is still dense and urban

      Population (2013)[5]
          Total 8,405,837[1]
          Rank 1st, U.S., 24th (World)

      so: 20 miles from the city center of karachi is still pretty much in the middle of dense giant fucking karachi

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

      • The Karachi and NY metro areas are of similar size, but NY has a much lower density overall. Yes, Manhattan is super-dense, but most of the NY metro by geographic area is sprawling suburbs in Long Island and NJ. Karachi suburbs extend about 20km in every direction, NY suburbs extend about 60km in every direction, if you look at Google Maps. You can also see that for an 8km radius around this nuclear facility, there is almost no population.

        • http://www.city-data.com/forum... [city-data.com]

          20 miles is about yonkers to manhattan on this map

          all directions, 20 mile radius, and well beyond, is dense and urban, except for the meadowlands:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

          http://www.census.gov/populati... [census.gov]

          The urban fringe generally consists of contiguous territory having a density of at least 1,000 persons per square mile.

          sure, it's not 60 story skyscrapers every block, but by the definition of urban, it is urban, all around nyc, for well beyond 20 miles, except for swamps

          as for the karachi nuke site, i see a very large urban center just to the north of the complex on google earth

      • Re:In Karachi? (Score:4, Informative)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday March 08, 2015 @11:43AM (#49209695)

        so: 20 miles from the city center of karachi is still pretty much in the middle of dense giant fucking karachi

        You use a lot of fancy numbers but really all you needed to do was look at a map. These reactors are being built in the middle of nowhere (or rather the edge of nowhere since it's on the waterfront). The reactors are not 20 miles from the city centre rather they are actually about 15 miles from the boundary.

        Better still these nice modern reactors with all their modern safety standards and passive safety systems and an inherently safer design are being built in an existing complex next to a set of existing 1970s era reactors. The article even has a picture of the existing plant.

        This is colossal FUD, and they should be welcoming the addition of GenIII reactors so they can eventually transition away from the older ones which actually may be a problem if something seriously goes wrong.

        • what about the large urban area just to the north of the nuke complex on google earth?

          regardless: poverty + violent sectarianism + unstable politics != we're happy they have nukes

          • what about the large urban area just to the north of the nuke complex on google earth?

            regardless: poverty + violent sectarianism + unstable politics != we're happy they have nukes

            How is that relevant to my comments which could be summarised as:
            a) It is no where near as bad as you make it out,
            b) This is actually a better outcome as the goal of building new large safe reactors facilitates the long term decommissioning of older less safe designs WHICH ARE ALREADY IN PLACE.

            I don't know why you keep talking like this it the first nuke complex there. It's not by a long shot. The thought process that goes into building something much safer next to something existing unsafe and then claimin

            • do i have your permission to not trust pakistan with nukes?

              oh yeah, that's right: who the fuck are you?

              i don't trust pakistan with nukes. before, or now

              see how that works?

              i humbly beg your forgiveness oh great arbitrary authority for crossing your dictat on the matter

              • I fail to see how it is at all relevant if you trust them given that they already have them. It's like standing on a chaotic pile of rubble and saying I don't trust this building to fall down.

                Nothing changes as a result of what is happening here.

                • yes, nothing changes. i didn't trust them before. i don't trust them now

                  and i already said that in my last post

                  do you need any other clarifications?

          • what about the large urban area just to the north of the nuke complex on google earth?

            Oh wow, I hate to double post but I just looked this up. You must be joking right? There's about 200 houses and I would postulate that a good portion of the people work at the reactor since that's how population centres like that are built up in the 3rd world.

            If this is your idea of some insurmountable risk then I have a tinfoil hat to sell you.

      • 20 miles out is still dense and urban

        Depending on what direction you go.

  • but some of their loyalties are divided, and in secret

    and with so much sectarian hatred, political instability, and poverty in that country, i fear that the most probable scenario for a purposeful nuclear attack in this world (so not accidental, probably plant sabotage) will be in pakistan

    i don't think the west has anything to fear. i think india does somewhat. but i think pakistanis have the most to fear by far

    there is a lot of bloodlust over there. and not the random yahoo kind, but the organized sectarian kind

    i fear for you pakistan

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      but some of their loyalties are divided, and in secret

      When Obama OKed Seal Team 6's takedown of Osama bin Laden, he didn't warn the Pakistani government or military that their airspace was being compromised by US helicopters. He knew they couldn't be trusted, and knew that there would be a diplomatic incident as a result. If you share information with the military or government, there's a decent chance it'll get leaked.

  • Don't worry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mdsolar ( 1045926 )
    China is building this plant and China has never had a nuclear accident. It has to be safe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2015 @01:22PM (#49210231)

    There has already been a nuclear reactor plant in Pakistan Karachi since the 1972, supplied by the Canadian Gov; it's called the KANUPP-I and it's still in operation, but only generating 85MW of power (max power = 140MW), while the new reactor will generate up to 1000MW.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karachi_Nuclear_Power_Complex#KANUPP-I

Neutrinos have bad breadth.

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