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It has been at zero power since. Is the River Bend Nuclear Reactor dead? Or will they put it back on life support for it… Death support for everyone else?
It is unclear if it took a direct hit or if it was a surge from the electrical grid, since strangely nuclear reactors are dependent upon outside power from the grid or backup diesel generators.
Huh? Yeah, that’s right! The US NRC says so:
“The reactor’s core contains fuel assemblies that are cooled by water circulated using electrically powered pumps. These pumps and other operating systems in the plant receive their power from the electrical grid. If offsite power is lost, emergency cooling water is supplied by other pumps, which can be powered by onsite diesel generators. Other safety systems, such as the containment cooling system, also need electric power.” http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/bwrs.html
Well I’ll be…
River Bend Nuclear Reactor
This “event” followed upon the heels of the Jan 5, 2016, “POT UNCNTRL RAD REL“, i.e. Potentially Uncontrolled Radiation Release where “the main control room alarm indicating high pressure in the auxiliary building actuated… Secondary containment was declared inoperable, and the Division 2 standby gas system was started. This action restored building pressure.” This apparently means that they vented radioactive materials into the environment to relieve pressure. This is a Mark III reactor which is only slightly better than the notorious Mark I and Mark II containments and is thus a dangerously problematic reactor type.
Recap of Details
“AUTOMATIC REACTOR SCRAM ON MAIN STEAM ISOLATION DUE TO ELECTRICAL FAULT
On 1/9/16 at 0237 [CST], River Bend Station sustained a reactor scram during a lightning storm. An electrical transient occurred resulting in a full main steam isolation [MSIV] (Group 6) and a Division II Balance of Plant isolation signal. During the scram, level 8 occurred immediately which tripped the feed pumps. A level 3 signal occurred also during the scram. Subsequent level 3 was received three times due to isolated vessel level control. The plant was stabilized and all spurious isolation signals reset, then the MSIVs were restored. The plant is now stable in Mode 3 and plant walkdowns are occurring to assess the transient.”
During the scram, all rods inserted into the core. The plant was initially cooled down using safety relief valves. Offsite power is available and the plant is in its normal shutdown electrical lineup.
The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector.”
This was less than one week after this serious “event”: “Potential Uncontrolled Radiation Release, Secondary Containment Declared Inoperable” so they appear to have vented it, presumably releasing radiation. Notification came 2 days too late:
“10 CFR Section:
50.72(b)(3)(v)(C) – POT UNCNTRL RAD REL
SECONDARY CONTAINMENT DECLARED INOPERABLE
“At  CST, on January 5, 2016, with the plant operating at 100 percent power, the main control room alarm indicating high pressure in the auxiliary building actuated. Operators confirmed that the building pressure, corrected for temperature, indicated slightly positive, whereas the building pressure limit in Technical Specifications is 0.0 – 3.0 inches of water negative pressure. Secondary containment was declared inoperable, and the Division 2 standby gas system was started. This action restored building pressure to the acceptable range, and the building was declared operable at [0027 CST] on January 6.
“This condition is being reported in accordance with 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(C) as an event that caused the secondary containment to be potentially incapable of performing its safety function. The NRC Senior Resident Inspector was notified.“. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2016/20160107en.html
Related: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/lightening-scrammed-nuclear-reactor-still-at-zero-power/ https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/louisiana-nuclear-reactor-scrammed-by-lightning-strike/
For those who, like us, doubted there was really lightening. There was probably lightening, even though it is winter: