backup generators, dangers of nuclear, disaster, electrical fault, electrical grid, electrical surge, environment, Fukushima, grid, historic flooding, LOCA, loss of cooling, Loss of Cooling Accident, lost cooling, Louisiana, major hazards, Mark III reactor, near miss, nuclear accident, nuclear disaster, nuclear energy, nuclear event, nuclear incident, nuclear reactor, nuclear safety, operational errors, operator failure, Potentially Uncontrolled Radiation Release, power surge, River Bend Nuclear Power Station, SCRAM, secondary containment inoperable, St. Francisville, Three Mile Island, thunderstorm, unplanned nuclear shutdown, US NRC, USA
One month after a thunderstorm led to a scram, the US NRC announced that there had been a loss of cooling the next day (which could have led to a nuclear meltdown, if not corrected quickly enough) and promised investigation: “The plant was operating at full power when a lightning strike caused a momentary surge in the plant’s offsite power supply, triggering an unplanned shutdown. Operators subsequently took appropriate actions to place the plant in a safe shutdown condition. The following day, operational errors led to a one hour loss of shutdown cooling.
The purpose of this special inspection is to better understand the circumstances surrounding the loss of shutdown cooling, determine if operator response was appropriate…“http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2016/16-002.iv.pdf See statement at bottom of our blog post.
Note that the Three Mile Island Nuclear Disaster was well underway within 2 hours (6 am) of the reactor trip and SCRAM (4 am) . A nuclear reactor can began to meltdown after only a few hours of loss of cooling. (Historic flooding in the area could have made getting help, back-up diesel generators and fuel, etc., more difficult).
This is south Louisiana, a semi-tropical climate, and, thus, it is absolutely ridiculous that a nuclear power station there is not prepared for thunderstorms-lightening strikes, especially a nuclear reactor sitting on a hill (to try to avoid river flooding). 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. This is a major achilles heel and one which apparently led to the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster:
“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
River Bend Nuclear Reactor was scrammed due to lightening and stayed at zero power for three weeks from January 9 to Jan. 30th. Note that this makes the Nuclear Energy Institute’s claim that River Bend nuclear reactor was running reliably in this period false. (See NEI News Release January 19, 2016).
On Jan. 31st it powered back up to one percent, Feb. 1st 18% and got up to 100% for 5 days from Feb. 8th to 12th before powering down to zero again, as of today (See list at bottom of blog post):
“On 1/9/16 at 0237 [CST], River Bend Station sustained a reactor scram during a lightning storm.“. It belongs to Entergy. It had another “event” less than one week earlier, on Jan. 5th, a “Potentially Uncontrolled Radioactive Release“.
Did they put it back at 100% just for the special investigation which apparently started on February 8th? Was this prudent? Will they put River Bend back on life support for it… Death support for everyone else?
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.”
About “Reactor Vessel Instrumentation System: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1125/ML11258A315.pdf
Less than one week before the lightening scram, there was this serious “event”:
“Potential Uncontrolled Radiation Release, Secondary Containment Declared Inoperable” and they appear to have vented it, presumably releasing radiation. Notification came 2 days too late for those who would like to avoid going outside:
“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 probably was lightening, even though it was winter:
About lightening: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2004/0621lightning_prt.htm
“Event” and Reactor Status
ZERO power from Jan 9th to Jan. 30th:
until here it powers up to one percent (1%) on Jan. 31st:
Riverbend was at 100% on Feb. 8th and stays there until Feb. 12th. Now it is at ZERO again.
 “Report of The President’s Commission On the Accident at Three Mile Island” (Kemeny et. al. Oct. 1979) found here: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1216/ML12167A050.pdf and here: http://www.threemileisland.org/downloads/188.pdf
 “Nuclear reactors and blackouts: An explosive mix that caused the Fukushima disaster” Blogpost by Jan Beranek – 6 April, 2015 at 13:16 “It only takes a few hours after the loss of cooling before the reactor begins to melt.“ “Jan Beranek currently works as Program Director for Greenpeace Mediterranean. He studied physics and has a university diploma for graduating a radiation protection course. He also led the response work of Greenpeace International in Japan after Fukushima accident in 2011.” Read the post here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/nuclear-reactors-and-blackouts-an-explosive-m/blog/52518/?overridedetect=1
An Intelligent Question: https://www.researchgate.net/post/Can_we_store_the_energy_of_lightning_during_a_thunderstorm
The Nuclear Energy Institute’s Claim that the Nuclear Reactors’ were able to run throughout the Mississippi River floods was highly inaccurate (19 Jan 2016). Not only was River Bend offline, but the flooding was still ongoing and the survival of the nuclear reactors was still an unknown. The dams could have failed. Our research suggests that the Mississippi River will eventually run through Waterford Nuclear Power Station, if the river is not gradually eased over to the Atchafalaya River. The NRC admits that Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station is subject to erosion, as well.