Friday, June 17, 2011

Single Source Reaction

One of the things that I try to be careful about is avoiding reactions to single sources. When I read something, no matter where it is, I don’t react to it until I see the same thing reported an at least a couple of other sources, even if the first report is in a place which I consider to be pretty reliable. It’s amazing how often that policy saves me from looking like an idiot. I do that enough even with that policy, imagine what I could do without it.

When the McKinsey report came out saying that a large number of employers would drop health insurance when “health care reform” became fully implemented in 2014, I was tempted to do an “I told you so” thing because I am no fan of the half assed way that social policy was implemented, but I waited to see if there was a basis for my “aha moment.” Turns out there was not, as the study was entirely bogus.

That doesn’t mean that the “health care reform” was good legislation. It was botched by having to pander to the reelection campaigns of legislators in fifty diverse states, but that report was not the “smoking gun” that was illustrative of the problems with it.

In similar vein, a blogger took a report of an incident at a nuclear reactor at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska way out of context and went from that report to “a single earthen dam is the only thing preventing a Fukushima type disaster in America's heartland.” The blog is an excellent place that I don’t want to embarrass, so I won’t name it here.

The incident was a “no fly order” issued on June 6th by the FAA due to flooding of the Missouri River, and a small electrical fire the next day which had knocked out the coolant pumps for the spent fuel pond for about 90 minutes. The news release added that after about 88 hours the water in that pool would reach boiling point.

The “no fly order” is entirely routine, issued because whenever there is flooding every private pilot in the area wants to go take a look, creating a navigation hazard, so the FAA tells pilots to stay the hell away to keep them from crashing into each other. It has nothing to do with any hazard created by the reactor itself.

The electrical fire on Jun 7 was extinguished by automatic fire systems before the fire department arrived and power to cooling system was restored in 1.7% of the time that would have been required for the event to have become any kind of serious problem.

Finally, the reactor at Fort Calhoun is a pressurized water type, not the boiling water type that melted down at Fukushima, which is rather like comparing Ford Escorts at Fukushima to an armored truck at Fort Calhoun, and it's a single reactor rather than four units, so there is a good deal more than “a single earthen dam” preventing “a Fukushima type disaster in America's heartland.”

Update, Saturday morning: Not to mention that the Fort Calhoun reactor is in a state of cold shutdown, and has been since April. How many ways can we over-react?

No comments:

Post a Comment