DGR Drones


Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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France is one of the most prominent nuclear dependent countries.  Over the past few weeks drones have been observed over some of their nuclear plants.  (see details from the NY Times Read More)

The French are investigating the origin and motives.  According to French officials they pose no threat to the power plants, but they do not want the plants photographed from the air.  Over flghts might reveal 'soft spots'.

In the past Greenpeace has challenged physically the security at nuclear sites.  Afterward, they quickly make their efforts known.  Greenpeace has failed to penetrate significantly in the past.  They deny involvement with the recent drone flights.  Most believe they have had nothing to do with them.

During the Joint Review Panel hearings for low and intermediate waste, the subject of security was discussed. 

Interveners who opposed the DGR did not bring up the subject to any extent.  The issue is one that the JRP concentrated on with OPG and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.  It's is probable that issues too sensitive to make public were discussed in camera.

Security certainly makes a strong case for a DGR for low and intermediate waste in a central suitable area with top level security.  Bruce Power has the security people and everyone is aware of the issues. 

Nuclear Power plants are designed to take tremendous shock, but low and intermediate waste storage  is vulnerable as well as the buildings housing high level waste.  The containers for high level waste can also handle major explosive shock.

So, with drones it is doubtful that a significant payload can be launched at the Western Waste Management site, but shock to the people living nearby would be hard to estimate.  There would be quite an uproar.

Large payloads take large drones.  If you're thinking about very small model airplanes, then they can't do much at all unless they are directed with pinpoint accuracy.

There is also the issue of nano-sized drones. One scientist has developed a radio controlled drone weighing less that 1/2 gram. That was a world record a few years ago.  Take a look at some of these tiny drones. Click Here  To do what he did, a designer would have to develop the tooling required.

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One could imagine a swarm of these nano drones causing mischief galore in any public place.  Some of the tiny planes are not much bigger than a fish fly.

 OPG, NWMO, CNSC and others have studied the drone issue extensively.

What is most interesting is that none of the activists groups mentioned much about drones.  in their questions to the JRP  Their  reasons could be twofold:

1.  Maybe they just did not think through the security issues with or without a DGR?

2.  A centrally located DGR near the world's largest nuclear plant does not make the activist's case.  Burying the waste makes it invulnerable to drone attack except at the point of entry to the site.  Once closed and sealed it in no longer vulnerable.

In any event, some group or person is teasing the French or probing their security.

Keep in mind that drones can be turned loose on buildings, hydro-electric plants, coal plants, bridges and population centres.  Deep burial sites can thwart them, however at a DGR site.  You can't protect a bridge in that way or for that matter and large building like the World Trade Center. 

Creating a giant, hundreds of feet thick, housing of concrete is not good enough for thousands of years due to the glacial action that is certain to take place.  If such a solution was seriously suggested, it would generate exactly the same controversy as the present proposed DGR in Kincardine does.

The JRP has investigated many scenarios.  Much of this is classified.

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Monday, November 10, 2014