The changing meaning of dual-use nuclear technology

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Monterey aquarium has a mesmerizing jellyfish exhibit, which includes the moon jellyfish pictured here. This species also happens to be the primary offender in the latest round of nuclear reactor shut downs in Sweden–Slate has a nice video explaining the problem and showing what these lovely creatures turn into after getting sucked into the cooling system of a nuclear power plant.

I assume that the risk models used to manage reactor safety account for the jellyfish threat, which is really more of a nuisance that a calamity. Nevertheless, this kind of event highlights one of the challenges of managing reactor safety in a rapidly changing climate environment–growth in invasive jellyfish populations has been linked to climate change. It also points to new kinds of trade offs.

In case you haven’t been following the problem, jellyfish blooms also shut down beaches over the summer in Spain. Spain has seven operating nuclear power plants, some of which are located on lovely beaches. There was debate about whether or not to renew the operating license for the Vandellos 2 nuclear power station in Hospitalet del Infant (pictured below), but currently it has been extended until 2020. Nuclear power plants are usually an unwelcome site on a beach vacation, but they are apparently also great for jellyfish abatement. Vandellos 2 nuclear power station in Hospitalet del Infant

 

One Response to “The changing meaning of dual-use nuclear technology”

  1. John October 7, 2013 at 1:49 AM #

    I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure the “jellyfish threat” is invisible to most risk models. 🙂

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