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Economic Collapse or EMP?

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Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby USMCWife2010 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:17 pm

Hello, everyone, I am looking for some input.

For several months I'd been toying with the idea of writing a PAW short story or novel (if my ramblings go on long enough). Well I finally began. I began writing under the assumption that I'd use an EMP as the Event and would simply draw upon our own plans on what we'd do should such an event occur.

After getting several pages into the story, I suddenly realized that if it were an EMP event, our plan to bug-in would be totally screwed as we are within 20 as-the-crow-flies miles from a nuclear power plant! (Nothing like starting a work of fiction to point out some serious lack of contigency planning in your own preps!) While trying to compose a plan for what we actually would do if it happened, I've also been trying to decide whether to continue with an EMP as the Event or whether to go with an economic collapse instead.

Writing about an EMP would challenge me to really figure out what the heck I'd do and then channel that into my characters. An economic collapse wouldn't involve as many hairy problems (such as nuclear meltdowns; at least not at first), and a slow decline is "easier" to handle in a story. But an EMP event has more whizz-bang-action at the beginning.

Thoughts?
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke

Fortune favors the well-prepared.


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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby Das Sheep » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:01 pm

An EMP would likely cause the eventual failure of nuke plants they could not get shot down, and prepper stories that involve bug outs are popular. It stands to reason that your protagonists might be forced from their area by growing radiation levels, perhaps heading to a part of the nation with springs that does not have any nuke plants near by?
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby peekachoo » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:14 pm

Its getting to the point that I think an ingrown toe nail could cause either one! What are people thinking? I wonder if everyone is asleep!
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby anita » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:25 pm

I think writing about the EMP is actually easier, because you get to the event immediately, or very quickly, and then the story is about dealing with the issues caused by the EMP. An economic collapse would likely be slower, as it affects people. Maybe not, if you are totally oblivious to everything happening around you. One day you wake up and the dollar is worthless, I guess, but I think the EMP is easier to explain and the problems are more immediate and dramatic.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby Everyman » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:01 pm

How did you come to the belief that an EMP will cause a disaster at a nuclear power plant? It's the supply grid that will likely fail from an EMP. The switchgear, controls and safety systems in a nuclear plant are the most rugged part of the whole system. It's not the generating systems that are affected... it's the delivery system....the grid.

If anything you'd want to be near a nuclear power plant in a EMP. They'll still be able to produce power and the closer you are to it the sooner you'll be reconnected.

Remember that that mess in Japan was caused by an earthquake, not an EMP.

Where I live in Florida we don't have to worry about EMP. Why?...Lightening. This is the lightening capital of the US. Lightening is as bad or worse than an EMP so the grid here is heavily protected....and tested by mother nature thousands of times every wet season.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby familyprepper5 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:52 pm

Write the story from a Marines wife prospective. As I'm sure you know both events would be drastically different on a military base. Its a story that hasn't been told yet. Many books tell of the military retaliation but note are from the Military's prospective or the prospective of those who live on or off base.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby USMCWife2010 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:11 am

familyprepper5 wrote:Write the story from a Marines wife prospective. As I'm sure you know both events would be drastically different on a military base. Its a story that hasn't been told yet. Many books tell of the military retaliation but note are from the Military's prospective or the prospective of those who live on or off base.


I actually am writing from the perspective of an ex-military couple. It's best to write about what you know, so the characters are loosely based on my husband and I. However, I've never lived on base, and we didn't get married until after he had already transitioned out into the reserves, so I don't have personal experience of living on base. That is a great story idea, though.

Thanks for the input, y'all; I do appreciate it!


Everyman wrote:How did you come to the belief that an EMP will cause a disaster at a nuclear power plant? It's the supply grid that will likely fail from an EMP. The switchgear, controls and safety systems in a nuclear plant are the most rugged part of the whole system. It's not the generating systems that are affected... it's the delivery system....the grid.


I don't want to hijack this thread with specific concerns about nuclear plants in the event of an EMP as I know I've seen it discussed elsewhere (updating from my phone so can't really search for it at the moment). Otherwise, I have concerns from various articles I've read elsewhere on the web:

http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/09/eff ... or_se.html

http://www.decodedscience.com/after-an- ... fely/10030

Now I am by no means an expert on power plants - nuclear or otherwise - so perhaps my concern is based on ignorance and not on fact, but from the limited research I've done, it does seem as though our grid is very vulnerable to an EMP. If we were to have a nationwide blackout (or even just half/most of the U.S.), the possibility of a nuclear plant being unable to keep the reactors cool is fairly high. If the emergency back-up generators fail, or they work but they are unable to refuel after days/weeks/months/what-have-you, then eventually a meltdown will occur. I suppose it hinges on just how widespread the EMP blackout is. If it's just the East Coast, while traumatic, the Midwest and West Coast could potentially bring in fuel before an incident occurs.

But anyway, the particulars of such an event would probably be better discussed in a separate thread!
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke

Fortune favors the well-prepared.


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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby RVAprepper2319 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:26 am

Everyman wrote:How did you come to the belief that an EMP will cause a disaster at a nuclear power plant? It's the supply grid that will likely fail from an EMP. The switchgear, controls and safety systems in a nuclear plant are the most rugged part of the whole system. It's not the generating systems that are affected... it's the delivery system....the grid.

If anything you'd want to be near a nuclear power plant in a EMP. They'll still be able to produce power and the closer you are to it the sooner you'll be reconnected.

Remember that that mess in Japan was caused by an earthquake, not an EMP.

Where I live in Florida we don't have to worry about EMP. Why?...Lightening. This is the lightening capital of the US. Lightening is as bad or worse than an EMP so the grid here is heavily protected....and tested by mother nature thousands of times every wet season.



You are correct with the grid part but the scenario that would cause the plants to fail is that none of the control systems are hardened. Sure the switchgear and breakers themselves might physically be fine but the control power circuits would be fried. You could lose battery back up, and emergency diesel power without control power.

With everything relying on computers to monitor plant status, I see a nuke plant going down rather quickly. I don't know of any plants that have manual start/tie-on diesel generators. Everything is automatic. No power, no cooling...no cooling, meltdown.

This also would effect every power plant out there. All computer control systems would crash. Hopefully enough of it would survive (depending on severity level) that you could keep emergency systems online.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby kr105 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:20 pm

The nuclear regulatory commission has a white paper on the effects of an EMP on a nuclear power plant and the conclusion is that the plant would have problems. Here is a link to it: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-colle ... 020r1.html

Also if you go on YouTube, search for Dr. Peter Pry. He is a physicist who was on the Congressional Committee on EMP and someone taped him and put it on You Tube. If I remember right, it is broken down into 7 or 8 sections, and I believe it runs over an hour long, but well worth watching. He details exactly what they expect to happen if an EMP hit us.
Warning: You won't sleep for a week. ReadyMom, 3ADScout and I have all heard him speak and it is the stuff of nightmares. This is the same briefing Congress received and how they could fail to act is baffling.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby Everyman » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:07 pm

Did you even bother to read your referenced article abstract?

Here's the last paragraph:

CONCLUSION

Detailed programmatic information on this issue was presented in SECY-81-641604 and subsequent program status reports were provided in SECY-82-157605 and SECY-82-157A.203 A study on the effects of EMP on nuclear power plants was documented in NUREG/CR-3069115 and forwarded to the Commission in SECY-83-367.606 This issue was RESOLVED with the Commission approval607 of the staff's report and no new requirements were established. Continuing staff work in response to the PRMs is a separate entity and does not affect this conclusion.


All this was done in 1982 and 1983...the NRC has been on top of this 3 decades.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby kr105 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:20 pm

Everyman wrote:?...

All this was done in 1982 and 1983...the NRC has been on top of this 3 decades.


Just to clarify, the study was done, but recommendations were not acted upon.

The impression I've gotten, from reading your posts, is that you believe nuclear power plants are safe in the event of an EMP. Please provide justification for your statement in the form of documentation and links.

Dr. Peter Pry, who was a member of the Congressional Commission on EMPs and the former
Director of the US Nuclear Strategy Forum, gave a briefing, just a few months ago, and stated they were not.

So I look forward to reading your justification and sources.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby Everyman » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:23 pm

kr105 wrote:
Everyman wrote:?...

All this was done in 1982 and 1983...the NRC has been on top of this 3 decades.


Just to clarify, the study was done, but recommendations were not acted upon.

The impression I've gotten, from reading your posts, is that you believe nuclear power plants are safe in the event of an EMP. Please provide justification for your statement in the form of documentation and links.

Dr. Peter Pry, who was a member of the Congressional Commission on EMPs and the former
Director of the US Nuclear Strategy Forum, gave a briefing, just a few months ago, and stated they were not.

So I look forward to reading your justification and sources.


First of all your "Doctor" Pry holds terminal degrees in International Relations and History. He is in no way a scientist or even an engineer. His use of the title Dr in matters relating to this topic is dishonest.

I would urge anyone interested in factual information from real experts to read this, you will see that this issue has been addressed as recently as 2010:

http://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2011 ... er-pulses/

BTW you might want to consider who pays for "Dr" Pry's efforts.

Cut and pasted from his EMPACT America website. Steuben Foods manufactures long term storage food.

Steuben Foods, Incorporated, is the sole sponsor of EMPact America.
http://www.empactamerica.org
You are free to use or republish anything I have written here provided that your intent is to freely disseminate information that will help people. Attributions to Everyman appreciated.

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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby SurvivIt » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:34 am

I think that the point is that an EMP or Carrington-scale event does indeed have significant capability of knocking out the electrics needed to keep the power flowing to the cooling pumps of nuke power plants. If the commercial grid fails, the plant is on its own, expected to survive off internal generators which will be limited for time by the amount of fuel they have on-site.

Remember, if there has been a big event that shuts off the grid, the VAST majority of vehicles will not be running, diesel or not, and "bringing in" fuel from the midwest for somewhere that wasn't affected just isn't going to be on anybody's 'to do' list.

Fast forward two days, a week, even a month, whatever time frame you like, the fuel for the generators will run out, and the cooling pumps will stop.

The reactors themselves will eventually fail, but there are containment buildings on all US nuke plants. Most of them will likely do their job and contain the compromised core, even after it melts.

The REAL problem, as pointed out in the previously-referenced article, is the UNCONTAINED spent fuel rods that are in the fuel pools. They're very hot, both thermally and radiologically. When the pumps stop bringing in cool water, they're gonna boil over, and then burst into flames that nobody's going to be able to extinguish. THAT's what's going to cause city-sized red-zones across America, where the radiation poisoning will be strong and persistent.

EMP or solar flare? Don't be even close to a nuke plant. You'll not likely get zapped immediately, but it WILL come in short order.

The proceeding is solely my own opinion, based on readings and personal experience as having once been the commander of a nuclear facility. I will welcome any rational discourse on the matter.
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby pheniox17 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:14 am

USMCWife2010 wrote:Hello, everyone, I am looking for some input.

For several months I'd been toying with the idea of writing a PAW short story or novel (if my ramblings go on long enough). Well I finally began. I began writing under the assumption that I'd use an EMP as the Event and would simply draw upon our own plans on what we'd do should such an event occur.

After getting several pages into the story, I suddenly realized that if it were an EMP event, our plan to bug-in would be totally screwed as we are within 20 as-the-crow-flies miles from a nuclear power plant! (Nothing like starting a work of fiction to point out some serious lack of contigency planning in your own preps!) While trying to compose a plan for what we actually would do if it happened, I've also been trying to decide whether to continue with an EMP as the Event or whether to go with an economic collapse instead.

Writing about an EMP would challenge me to really figure out what the heck I'd do and then channel that into my characters. An economic collapse wouldn't involve as many hairy problems (such as nuclear meltdowns; at least not at first), and a slow decline is "easier" to handle in a story. But an EMP event has more whizz-bang-action at the beginning.

Thoughts?


why don't you do both, a "accidental" emp caused by some science experiment (reasons keeping it fiction and avoiding the "nuclear attack")

do it on a world wide scale (now that would be fun) instantly the world economy will collapse and be hell on earth (even be possible to make it a series)

but your challenge would be creating quality charters.... if you got the skill.... would love to read a story like that.....
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Re: Economic Collapse or EMP?

Postby USMCWife2010 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:14 am

SurvivIt wrote:The REAL problem, as pointed out in the previously-referenced article, is the UNCONTAINED spent fuel rods that are in the fuel pools. They're very hot, both thermally and radiologically. When the pumps stop bringing in cool water, they're gonna boil over, and then burst into flames that nobody's going to be able to extinguish. THAT's what's going to cause city-sized red-zones across America, where the radiation poisoning will be strong and persistent.


You've hit the nail on the head. THAT is what I'm primarily concerned about but failed to articulate more clearly in my other posts.


pheniox17 wrote:why don't you do both, a "accidental" emp caused by some science experiment (reasons keeping it fiction and avoiding the "nuclear attack")

do it on a world wide scale (now that would be fun) instantly the world economy will collapse and be hell on earth (even be possible to make it a series)

but your challenge would be creating quality charters.... if you got the skill.... would love to read a story like that.....


Personally I don't think an accidental EMP due to a science experiment is plausible. I think with the tension between China and Japan (and by association, China and the U.S.) that the likelihood of war due to a military misstep is possible and that could lead to EMP attacks. There was a headline within the past week of a Chinese warship deliberately blocking passage for an American military ship in international waters. Things could come to a head quickly in that department.

If you've not yet read "One Second After," you really should. It's solidly written and the plot seemed pretty realistic to me, minus the fact that he didn't devote any attention to how it would affect a nuclear power plant. Considering that the story was based in western North Carolina and there are plants in NC that are close enough to cause a problem for that location, that was the only glaring omission in an otherwise frighteningly realistic story.

I may post the first chapter of my story on APN to glean feedback as to whether the characters seem interesting enough to "hook" readers, but I haven't fully decided yet.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
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Fortune favors the well-prepared.


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