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Thursday, April 1, 2010 01:30 pm

Letters to the Editor 04/01/2010


Graphite Pebble for Pebble Bed Reactor in Germany.

After having read Diane Ivey’s article on “Nuclear Power Revival” [March 18], I wanted to bring an additional consideration of nuclear power in Illinois. About a decade ago, when I was a Project Engineer in the Reactor Safety Section of the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety (before Governor Blagojevich merged the various duties of IDNS into the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in July of 2003), several of us attended a meeting sponsored by the Central Illinois Section of the American Nuclear Society about a new design for safer use of the fission of uranium to generate electricity.

Designated as a High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Pebble Bed Reactor, the concept had been developed by ESKOM in South Africa and used tennis-ball size graphite spheres to encapsulate the U-235 used to generate heat through the fission process. The spheres were cooled by helium gas that would pass through a heat exchanger to generate steam for the turbine-generators producing the electrical power at the plant. The design was so much safer than the current light water reactor designs used throughout most of the world today, because the fuel spheres could withstand a total loss of coolant accident and cool down on their own, passively, without cracking and releasing dangerous fission products, the main radiological concern of a nuclear accident.

The hope was stated at the meeting that because Clinton Nuclear Power Station had been cleared as a two-reactor site, it might be possible to build a working prototype HTGC Pebble Bed Reactor on the site. The design was such that a proposed power station would use several 100-MW reactors in tandem. Besides the fuel integrity benefits, the design also features an on-line refueling process that would continually remove spheres from the reactor to determine their viability, removing spent fuel spheres and replacing them with fresh spheres. A final environmental consideration is that it would be much easier to chemically reprocess these spheres, removing the shorter-lived fission products, isolating the longer-lived actinides, and recycling the still-usable uranium and plutonium for incorporation into fresh fuel spheres.

Darius Depa

Thank you so much for that beautiful tribute to Jerry Turley [“Goodbye to Jerry,” March 25]. It is greatly appreciated.

My sister is married to Jerry’s brother, Dave. I went to school with Jerry and grew up hearing his music throughout the years in the area. Jerry was an awesome person, always upbeat and happy. Never hesitated to take time to stop and talk to people he knew, be it at the grocery store, the local Eagles Club, or whereever he happened to run into you. I remember Jerry and his 1969 Yellow Z-28.

Another thing I will never forget about Jerry is his love for his little dog, Ollie. He would bring Ollie to the Eagle’s Club on Tuesday nights for the drawing and leave him in the car with the windows rolled down a little. He tried to bring Ollie in the club one night and hold him for the hour he would be there, but the bartender wanted no part of a dog being in the club and he had to take him out to the car. I teasingly told Jerry I was going to call the SPCA on him for leaving the dog in the car. Every time he came to the club, I went out to see if the dog was in the car. Then I’d go back in and say, “I’m calling the SPCA.” One time Jerry came in and I said, “Jerry do you have the dog in the car?” He said yes, come out and see. I walked out with him to find the car running, windows rolled up and the air conditioning on HIGH. He had started leaving the car running with the air conditioner on just for Ollie. We’ve laughed and now we’ve cried. We have truly lost a legend and friend in the small central Illinois town of Dawson and the surrounding area. For some, life will never be the same.

Sharon Brown

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