, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The comment period deadline is on March 30th regarding whether or not the US NRC should use improved identification techniques to better detect concrete degradation at Nuclear Power Stations. http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NRC-2014-0257 The request for better standards comes from an organization which is worried about the safety status at Seabrook nuclear plower station just 40 miles up the coast from Boston. Your comment can support better testing for safety in nuclear power stations all over America.
Seabrook NPS and Big Dig
Locations exported to Google Earth from Wikipedia
They are both near the Atlantic and the chloride in the sea salt contributes to concrete degradation and metal corrosion, including the Alkali Silica Reaction degradation discussed in the comments document (docket). The concern is that damage can weaken structures before it becomes visible to the eye.
US NRC inspecting concrete cracks at Seabrook NPS
NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane uses a flashlight to closely examine cracks in a concrete wall at the Seabrook nuclear plant in New Hampshire. The cracks are caused by a chemical reaction in the components of the concrete. The NRC is monitoring how the plant owner is dealing with the issue.” (USNRC-Flickr)

Concrete quality is even more important for nuclear reactors than for roadways and tunnels: “Exposure of concrete structures to neutrons and gamma radiations in nuclear power plants and high-flux material testing reactor can induce radiation damages in their concrete structures. Paramagnetic defects and optical centers are easily formed, but very high fluxes are necessary to displace a sufficiently high number of atoms in the crystal lattice of minerals present in concrete before significant mechanical damage is observed.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_degradation Notice it may be there but may not be “observed”. However, mechanical strength is lost before it is visible. The alkali silica reaction discussed in the comment documents is but one type of concrete degradation. The chloride in sea salt speeds up alkali silica reaction, as well as other types of degradation-corrosion. This is because it’s a strong oxidizer.

Additionally, problems related to underground tunnels, such as the Big Dig, are of special interest in the context of proposed and existing underground nuclear waste facilities, which leak. WIPP in New Mexico, for instance, leaked from the beginning. Underground structures leak, according to tunnel experts. Some leak more; some leak less. There may be exceptions but we know of none, even though we have extensively researched the topic in the past. Thus, most required pumping of water. WIPP supposedly used large fans.

The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in the U.S. and was plagued by escalating costs, scheduling overruns, leaks, design flaws, charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials, criminal arrests,[2][3] and one death.[4]…the construction work was done between 1991 and 2006; and the project concluded on December 31, 2007,…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig See also: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/big-dig-concrete-fraud/

Thousands of leaks

As far back as 2001, Turnpike Authority officials and union contractors knew of thousands of leaks in ceiling and wall fissures, extensive water damage to steel supports and fireproofing systems, and overloaded drainage systems.[38] A $10 million contract, signed off as a cost overrun, was used to repair these leaks. Many of the leaks were a result of Modern Continental and other subcontractors failing to remove gravel and other debris before pouring concrete. This was not made publicly known to the media, but engineers at MIT (volunteer students and professors) performed several experiments and found serious problems with the tunnel.[39]

On September 15, 2004, a major leak in the Interstate 93 north tunnel forced the closure of the tunnel while repairs were conducted. This also forced the Turnpike Authority to release information regarding its non-disclosure of prior leaks. A follow-up reported on “extensive” leaks that were more severe than state authorities had previously acknowledged. The report went on to state that the $14.6 billion tunnel system was riddled with more than 400 leaks. A Boston Globe report, however, countered that by stating there were nearly 700 leaks in a single 1,000-foot (300 m) section of tunnel beneath South Station. Turnpike officials also stated that the number of leaks being investigated was down from 1,000 to 500.[39]

The problem of leaks is further aggravated by the fact that many of them involve corrosive salt water. This is caused by the proximity of Boston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, causing a mix of salt and fresh water leaks in the tunnel. The situation is made worse by road salt spread in the tunnel to melt ice during freezing weather, or brought in by vehicles passing through.[40]

Salt water and salt spray are well-known issues that must be dealt with in any marine environment. It has been reported that “hundreds of thousands of gallons of salt water are pumped out monthly” in the Big Dig, and a map has been prepared showing “hot spots” where water leakage is especially serious.[41] Salt-accelerated corrosion has caused ceiling light fixtures to fail (see below), but can also cause rapid deterioration of embedded rebar and other structural steel reinforcements holding the tunnel walls and ceiling in place.[40]
Exiting Big Dig Tunnel Streetview
Area of the Big Dig. Note the cracked-degraded concrete on the road; rust under the vents to the right. Google Streetview, date unknown. Concrete panels on the left appear newly replaced.

Substandard materials

Massachusetts State Police searched the offices of Aggregate Industries, the largest concrete supplier for the underground portions of the project, in June 2005. They seized evidence that Aggregate delivered concrete that did not meet contract specifications. In March 2006 Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly announced plans to sue project contractors and others because of poor work on the project. Over 200 complaints were filed by the state of Massachusetts as a result of leaks, cost overruns, quality concerns, and safety violations. In total, the state has sought approximately $100 million from the contractors ($1 for every $141 spent).[42]

In May 2006, six employees of the company were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. In July 2007, Aggregate Industries settled the case with an agreement to pay $50 million. $42 million of the settlement went to civil cases and $8 million was paid in criminal fines. The company will provide $75 million in insurance for maintenance as well as pay $500,000 toward routine checks on areas suspected to contain substandard concrete. [43]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig#Problems (The above wikipedia info was last accessed in November 2014, but appears to have been totally, or almost totally, unchanged in more recent updates).

Aggregate Industries, a major concrete contractor for the project, who had managers convicted for fraud, is a company based in Leicestershire United Kingdom, bought by Swiss owned Holcim in 2005. It is unclear if Aggregate was still involved with the Big Dig after Holcim became owner. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggregate_Industries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holcim http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Continental
(Leicestershire is home to “Baroness” Verma who is involved in imposing new nuclear reactors-waste dump on the UK. Nuclear New Builds are large infrastructure projects, using lots of concrete and subject to cost overruns and which thus leave the door wide open for fraudulent practices. This is all the more true for the construction of nuclear power stations, where there is little experience – in contrast to roads and tunnels where there is a lot of experience.)

2. Ngowi, Rodrique (2007-12-25). “$6M Settlement in Big Dig Death”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-12-25.[dead link]
3. Ross, Casey (2007-08-08). “Epoxy company hit with Big Dig indictment”. Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 20 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
4. “Review Begins After Big Dig Tunnel Collapse”. CNN.com. 2006-07-12. Archived from the original on July 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-25.
38. Report: Even More Big Dig Leaks Found – Big Dig News Story – WCVB Boston[dead link]
39. “Report: Even More Big Dig Leaks Found”. WCVB-TV. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2006-07-18.[dead link]
40. Murphy, Sean P. (April 5, 2012). “Big Dig needs $54m light fix”. boston.com (The Boston Globe). Retrieved 2012-04-09.
41. “The Mysterious Corroding Big Dig Light Fixtures”. boston.com. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
42. “State weighs suing ‘Big Dig’ contractors”. International Herald Tribune. 2006-03-20. Archived from the original on 18 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-17.
43. “Concrete Supplier to Pay $50 Million to Settle Big Dig Case”. Insurancejournal.com. 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2014-04-08
. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig#Problems
See also: Fatal ceiling collapse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig_ceiling_collapse

Google Maps coordinates exported from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seabrook_Station_Nuclear_Power_Plant