This isn't hypothetical. This list may interest you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sunken_nuclear_submari...
>... the ocean is full of salt, how many half-lives until corrosion prevents containment?
>They have not corroded away and released wholesale nuclear waste after many decades. If that's not relevant to your line of inquiry then I must be totally misunderstanding you.
You don't misunderstand me, you purpousely misinterpret my questions so you can give easy answers...
I-131 has an 8-day half-life and is the primary threat to populations in large early releases. The direct answer to your question for I-131 is at least 2,000 half-lives. Sr-90 and Cs-137 have 30-year half lives, so for them it's at least 2. As you surely know, the longer half-life nuclides release energy more slowly and are therefore less dangerous to biological systems. At the extreme, U-238 has a few billion year half-life and can be handled safely without shielding.
In the scenario I'm painting, the reactor would be recovered from the sea within ~5 years so none of this matters. The corrosion will not fail the system within those 5 years. I do not propose to just leave any failed reactor down there indefinitely.
>Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.
Which is exactly what I was accusing you of before you reflected the accusation. Please note there are 2 components in this rule:
1. Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.
2. Assume good faith.
I will discuss part 1 in the context of our discussion, but first point out that 2: does not mandate to keep and maintain the a priori assumption of good faith, it only mandates to assume good faith.
Now for part 1, lets personally dissociate and review the discussion as being held by Alice and Bob:
After Bob states,
>Better stated: sink and don't leak because you are intimately linked to a near-infinite heat sink, and heating up/melting are a prerequisite to leaking.
Alice asks a concise question:
>that doesn't discuss corrosion though, the ocean is full of salt, how many half-lives until corrosion prevents containment?
and later Alice adds the question:
>is that assuming steel at the same temperature as the surrounding salt still water, or assuming steel that is hotter than the constantly convecting stream of fresh salty water?
All the while Alice is a priori assuming good faith on behalf of Bob.
Now Bob can give multiple interpretations to Alice's question, and he is required to please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.
Bob can use interpretation 1 interpreting Alice as Alice1 implying all of the following:
* 1A) Alice is worried about shortlived isotopes
* 1B) moreover she seems to believe steel corrodes in a matter of days in the salty sea, Alice probably never heard of the Titanic recovery, Alice believes that ships can't be reused because after every trip they are decommisioned and a new ship is built for every trip.
* 1C) Also Alice seems to be unaware that Iodine is the most easily mitigated isotope since we can bulk manufacture Iodine tablets containing non-radioactive isotopes.
* 1D) Alice seems to be uninformed about all the above topics despite referencing concepts like nuclear half lives, the corrosion of metal in salty water, convection of hot water in cold water, and the concentration and saturation of metal ions in aquaous solutions...
This interpretation of Alice is easy to criticize, for obvious reasons
or Bob can use interpretation 2 interpreting Alice as Alice2:
* 2A) Alice is worried about longlived isotopes
* 2B) Alice is worried about the influence of energy release in the long tail of nuclear decay: consider a simple system of N identical unstable isotopes decaying to a stable isotope (thats ignoring the worse long decay chains), after one half life, half the number of remaining radioactive particles has halved, but half of the energy that will eventually be released as heat (not temperature!) is still contained in that long tail. Alice wonders if that energy can speed up the corrosion process on long time scales. When salty water dissolves metal, theres a thin layer of water that is saturated by dissolved metal which acts in a self-limiting way. But if the heat causes convection, that thin layer of saturated water will be constantly replenished with fresh unsaturated salty water. Similarily evaporation is much enhanced if convection or wind carries away the saturated air, which is why we like to hang our clothes to dry outside...
If Bob chooses interpretation 1 (which is easier to criticize) over interpretation 2, then it is Bob who is acting in violation of part 1 of the rule from the guidelines...
If Bob then at some point replies "They have not corroded away and released wholesale nuclear waste after many decades." Then Alice can only conclude that Bob has chosen the weaker interpretation Alice1 over Alice2. At that point she simply corrects her a priori assumption that Bob is acting in good faith, and she explicitly points it out.
Then Bob escalates by reflecting the identical accusation in a vague reference to the guidelines, simply because Alice is open about her founded conclusion on Bob's behaviour, while Bob never explicitly states he chooses interpretation Alice1 over Alice2 even though it is evident to any reader... Alice did assume good faith on behalf of Bob, but Bob's replies imply he chose the weaker interpretation Alice1. That is unless Bob genuinely believes people like Alice think ships are one-time-use items, that Iodine tablets do not exist, ...
I hope someone (dang?) who can prove their association with the platform can clear this up, perhaps in your favour perhaps in mine (don't care really, I would just like clarity / precedent, so that we maintain equality before the guidelines)
Also you keep changing attention to a lesser problem of containment, the short-lived nuclides, for example you state:
>Nuclear accidents generally worry about something called Large Early Release Frequency.
Why are you personifying the accident events? Surely you mean nuclear experts instead of accidents? Let me explain why they focus on the short-lived nuclides: because they can be affordibly mitigated with measures like Iodine tablets. abstaining from eating produce from the affected area for a few days, etc...
The longer lived ones are not necessarily safer, they are simply not affordibly mitigatable over longer timespans! (In case of consumption, the shortlived ones have a higher activity of course, but the longer-lived ones with a lower activity would be consumed for long timespans, such that DNA damage can integrate over time)
Regardless of these issues, would you consider it prudent for mankind to explicitly define an absolute reference background energy-spectrum of radio-activity? i.e. for each gamma energy bin some typical but from then on fixed reference background activity? Because the only references to background I find are currently comparing with whatever local background is found away from a target of investigation, which is good enough on short timescales, but how will future generations be able to compare their background with ours? It seems we keep assuming that the natural background can not be influenced by human activity, which seems dangerously close to the original fallacy that human activity can not influence atmospheric CO2 concentration...