Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

The missile hazard of surface traffic accidents to nuclear power plants

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  • A method is presented for appraising the hazards to nuclear power plants from missiles from surface traffic accident explosions. Due to the infrequency with which surface traffic accident explosions occur and the poor records kept concerning them, a probabilistic method is chosen to investigate the overall hazards potential to nuclear power plants of such events. An unacceptable accident is defined as one where one or more missiles from a surface traffic accident explosion anywhere along a traffic route running past a nuclear plant strike a safety related component at the plant or the walls of a structure housing such components and are able to penetrate these walls. Penetration of such walls is conservatively assumed to render such safety related equipment inoperative, thus constituting an "unacceptable" event. The method of determining the annual probability of such an unacceptable accident incorporates modeling assumptions based on physical laws and conventional engineering concepts known to apply as well as empirical relations used in similar studies in the past. The maximum range of missiles as a function of the amount of explosive involved is determined from an empirical relation. However, the determination of the impact characteristics (angle and velocity) of the missiles and their penetration characteristics is based on deterministic models for missile trajectories under the effect of aerodynamic drag. Plausible assumptions are made regarding the angular distribution, initial velocity, aerodynamic properties, and number distribution of the missiles. The equations describing this model are rather complex and require the use of numerical methods and computer techniques to obtain the desired probability of unacceptable events for specific cases. Several representative cases and parametric studies are presented. In these reference studies it was found that the effects of drag were minimal. It is somewhat speculative to conclude that this is generally true; however, if it is, a much simpler drag-free model could be used to yield a conservative estimate of the desired probability. Drag effects begin to play an important role only in those cases where explosives yield missiles of high initial velocity and relatively small mass, as may be the case in munitions explosions. The model is believed to be an improvement over past methods because of the increased confidence in results yielded by the application of physical laws to it. For the same reason, the model possesses flexibility such that it can be applied confidently to a wide range of conditions which may be encountered in actual cases. Finally, the model contributes to the better understanding of the problem at hand since its detailed structure permits identification and investigation of those factors which are most significant in the determination of the hazards potential.
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