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Palisades: another “Big Easy” Nuclear Reactor owned by New Orleans’ Entergy.
Emergency cooling water on top of the nuclear reactor control room gushing 90 gallons per day of radioactive water with 3 drops per minute dripping into the control room and even onto the control panels; radioactive water discharged to the environment… This was after the previous 2011 leak was repaired. Why was it radioactive if it’s emergency borated water? “On May 18, 2011, Condition Report (CR) PLP–2011–02491 was initiated when leakage from the ceiling in the Palisades main control room was identified following heavy rains in the area. Chemistry analysis of this leakage revealed several radioactive isotopes including Cobalt–58, a short-lived isotope found in the primary coolant…”
Palisades Nuclear Reactor will be 45 years old at the end of this year and is located on the Great Lakes (in Michigan). The major “news” coming out of the US NRC’s report yesterday on Palisades is mostly known: the NRC is worthlessly slow for the rare times it wrist-slaps anyone; and that this nuclear reactor is old. Less well-known news is that this reactor is poorly designed (with emergency cooling water on top of the control room – gee how stupid can they get? ), and the shoddy repairs subsequent to the leak from the emergency cooling water tank, including faulty welding leading to another leak into the control room. How many other nuclear power stations share this defect, which shows the sheer lunacy which has apparently always gripped the nuclear industry? This nuclear reactor was built by an NYC-Connecticut based firm, Combustion Engineering. It was the contractor during the SL-1 nuclear accident in Idaho. The SL-1 accident is the only US nuclear accident where someone is known to have instantly died. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SL-1 Can’t blame New Orleans for that. Combustion Engineering nuclear was run by Connecticut native, Harvard lawyer: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/02/26/nyregion/arthur-j-santry-jr-74-is-dead-headed-combustion-engineering.html
Oh, speaking of a never-ending parade of idiocy: whoever was fixing Palisades: “Installed a layer of fiber board between the concrete slab and new aluminum plating” (p. 10, NRC powerpoint) Talk about doing it stupid and on the cheap. That’s going to be warped and moldy very quickly from condensate isn’t it? What about fire safety? They can’t at least put some sort of anti-microbial, fire-resistant, tarp in there? Fiberboard? They couldn’t even spring for real wood? Or, better, couldn’t Louisiana based Entergy get hold of water resistant bald cypress wood?
This nuclear reactor has been legally, and sometimes illegally, polluting Lake Michigan for 45 years. How long does it take for pollutants to leave Lake Michigan? 99 years, according to US NOAA: http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pr/ourlakes/facts.html
The “confirmatory order” just issued by the US NRC is at the slothful speed of New Orleans, not of what is supposed to be a major country. It is apparently for the original 2011 leak. If Louisiana and New Orleans were arguably a third world banana republic and its largest city, during the 80s, most of the USA appears to now fall into this category now. In the case of the US NRC perhaps the slothful speed has to do with the US government often being a toe-hold for immigrants from countries which are sometimes more slow-moving than “banana republics”.
Does anyone even recall what they were doing when these events transpired? Do the four “culprits” who are accused of “willfully” failing to enter information even work there any more? Is the NRC’s slow “crack-down” on Entergy got to do with it being any worse than competing Chicago nuclear utility Exelon? Or, since Obama is in so tight with Exelon is he turning the screws on Entergy at Exelon’s behest? Considering the long-standing historic ties, including corruption ties, which exist(ed) between Chicago and New Orleans would they be so different? The roots of the ties lie in the Illinois Central Railroad, followed by the I-55 Highway, running from New Orleans to Chicago.
“Riding of the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central”: http://youtu.be/piUWIqWSthA (song) But, this isn’t a train story, you say? Yes, it is on multiple levels. Nuclear power stations were based on railroad boilers and tankcars with little modifications outside of smushing or stretching as needed. This appears still a fav trick with new reactors, but rarely good engineering. The first Army nuclear reactors were designed by the American Locomotive Co: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Locomotive_Company https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_Nuclear_Power_Program The name Combustion Engineering Co., maker of Palisades, speaks for itself.
From the US NRC, May 16, 2016 (FIVE YEARS after the initial fact):
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Order to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. under which the company will perform a series of actions to address failures in handling a leak from the safety injection refueling water tank (SIRWT) into the control room at the Palisades Nuclear Plant./The plant is located in Covert, Mich., five miles south of South Haven.
… The violations are connected to the discovery of leakage from the plant’s control room ceiling on May 18, 2011.
Even though the leak did not result in damage to control room or other safety equipment, the NRC determined that four Palisades employees willfully failed to enter information which identified the tank as the source of the control room leak into the corrective actions program. This delayed Entergy’s response to the issue. In addition, Entergy failed to perform an adequate analysis of the tank’s ability to fulfill its safety function, and failed to follow requirements associated with a missed tank surveillance test. The tank is designed to provide borated water to cool the reactor in case of an accident.
Entergy has already taken a number of actions to address the causes of the violations, which include repairs to the tank to prevent further leakage and strengthening the safety culture at Palisades. The NRC independently reviewed the company’s efforts and noted improvement in these areas.
… Those commitments include: conducting five public meetings by the end of 2018;… adopting a meeting format which allows members of the public to raise questions and concerns.” https://web.archive.org/web/20160517075825/http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2016/16-010.iii.pdf NEVER MIND THAT IT LEAKED RADIOACTIVE WATER INTO THE CONTROL ROOM AND THE ENVIRONMENT.
From a long version of the document, which is not yet available at the NRC:
“More specifically, on May 18, 2011, Palisades employees initiated Condition Report (CR) PLP-2011–02491 when leakage from the ceiling in the Palisades main control room was identified following heavy rains in the area. Based on the evidence gathered during the OI investigation, the NRC determined that four Palisades employees willfully violated NRC requirements by failing to enter a condition adverse to quality into Palisades’ corrective action program, after they either initiated or received e-mails that concluded with high certainty that the SIRWT or associated piping was the source of the leakage. Their actions caused Entergy to be in violation of 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, “Instructions, Procedures, and Drawings,” and Procedure EN-LI-102, “Corrective Action Process,” Revision 16, which requires employees to promptly identify and initiate CRs for conditions adverse to quality.”
If you can find it please see: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION In the Matter of ) ) ALL POWER REACTOR LICENSEES ) OWNED AND OPERATED BY ) Docket Nos. (Attachment 1) ENTERGY NUCLEAR OPERATIONS, INC.; ) Licensed Nos. (Attachment 1) ENTERGY OPERATIONS, INC.; AND ) ENTERGY NUCLEAR GENERATION ) COMPANY ) EA-15-039, CONFIRMATORY ORDER MODIFYING LICENSE
From an NRC Powerpoint presentation:
“NRC Internet Event Briefing Palisades SIRWT Leak Repair and Inspections July 16, 2013” p. 2 “Welcome Jack Giessner Branch Chief NRC Region III“, p. 3 “Introductions – NRC: Jack Giessner, Chief, Branch 4 (Presenter), Mel Holmberg, Senior Reactor Inspector, Branch 1, David Alley, Senior Materials Engineer, NRR, Richard Conatser, Health Physicist, NRR , Thomas Taylor, Senior Resident Inspector, Palisades”
“What happened with the SIRWT?
• Palisades plant shutdown on May 5, 2013, due to observed SIRWT leakage of ~90 gallons per day (gpd)
• Exceeded the 38 gpd limit to shut down established by NRC’s confirmatory action letter (CAL EA 12-155; ML12199A409)
• ~80 gallons of low radioactivity water spread onto the roof, down roof drains, into drains that go to Lake Michigan
• Released radioactivity to Lake Michigan (0.000002 rem) is well below regulatory limits (.1 rem/year) and did not impact the safety of plant workers or the public
• The sand samples taken near the plant discharge indicated no impact to the public – independently verified by NRC” (p. 7)
• Around 12 inspectors were involved in NRC review of code repair, structural and non-destructive examinations of the SIRWT
• The NRC inspectors observed work activities inside the tank
• NRC reviewed the SIRWT root cause report and design change evaluation to ensure the tank performs its required safety function
• Resident inspectors are periodically inspecting the SIRWT roof for leakage” p. 9
• The NRC reviewed the following actions by the Licensee:
– Tank bottom replacement
– Replacement of all welds associated with the floor inside the tank
– Nozzle replacement
– Installed a layer of fiber board between the concrete slab and new aluminum plating” p. 10 [Talk about doing it on the cheap. That’s going to be warped and moldy very quickly from condensate.]
• The NRC reviewed the following actions by the Licensee :
– Welding workers got hands-on training on the aluminum welds
– Completed a range of tests on the new plate and welds” p. 11
“Main Control Room Leak
• On June 4, 2013, a few drops of water from the control room ceiling dripped onto one of the panels
• The leak originated from the ‘M’ nozzle during tank repairs
• The licensee established a catch device to capture the leakage
• The leakage lasted for ~4 hours at 3 drops per minute
• The resident inspector walked down the control room and verified there was no impact to any equipment
• The licensee has to repair the concrete ceiling in accordance with the NRC Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL)” (p. 12)
“Ongoing Actions • In accordance with the NRC CAL, the licensee is required to:
– Continue inspections of the concrete support structure above the control room, control room hallway, and the concrete support structure ceiling – Repair the control room ceiling before the end of the next refueling outage
• Ongoing inspections of the tank by the licensee and NRC show no leakage
• Follow-up NRC inspections will be conducted on site
• Report with NRC conclusions will be issued” p. 13
“Service Water Leak
• On July 10, 2013, the NRC resident inspector discovered a pin-hole service water leak during a routine inspection in the auxiliary building
• The leak rate is about one milliliter/minute (less than a cup per hour)
• The leak is not radioactive and is not a threat to public safety
• The leak is not impacting other equipment
• Licensee is not required to report the leak to the NRC per 10CFR 50.72
• NRC inspectors have reviewed the licensee’s assessment and their conclusion that it does not interfere with the system’s ability to perform its function
• NRC inspectors continue to evaluate this issue and monitor the leakage” p. 14
• NRC reviewed licensee’s work related to repairs and examinations of the SIRW tank: – root cause – design change evaluation – tank repairs
• Tank will be monitored for leakage
• The SIRWT is performing its safety function and the plant is safe” (p. 15)
From the USNRC:
“Factual Summary of NRC Investigation
On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Investigations initiated an investigation to determine whether personnel at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant (Palisades) deliberately failed to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC regarding a safety injection and refueling water storage tank (SIRWT) leak. The investigation was completed on March 10, 2015.
On May 18, 2011, Condition Report (CR) PLP–2011–02491 was initiated when leakage from the ceiling in the Palisades main control room was identified following heavy rains in the area. Chemistry analysis of this leakage revealed several radioactive isotopes including Cobalt–58, a short-lived isotope found in the primary coolant. After repairs were made to the auxiliary building roof, leakage into the control room stopped and did not recur. The Palisades auxiliary building contains the main control room with the catacombs directly above it, and the SIRWT is located on the auxiliary building roof directly above catacombs.
On May 27, 2011, a robotic visual inspection was performed in the catacombs above the control room and below the SIRWT to look for the source of the leakage. This inspection identified boric acid deposits on the catacombs ceiling and floor, and on piping components.
On June 2, 2011, a direct visual inspection (VT–2) was performed in the catacombs that identified two active leaks: one from the catacombs ceiling and one from a 3-inch SIRWT piping flange in the catacombs.
• Condition Report PLP–2011–02738 was initiated for the active flange leak on the 3-inch SIRWT piping flange. The flange bolting material was carbon steel, which is susceptible to boric acid corrosion. In accordance with procedure EM–09–20, “Boric Acid Corrosion Control Program,” a boric acid evaluation was required to determine the current and future integrity of the bolts. However, the VT–2 data sheet did not contain information on the material condition of the flange bolting. The CR documented a minor (less than one drop per minute) flange leak on the 3-inch piping flange, but did not identify any through-wall leakage or component wastage. It stated that no degraded or nonconforming condition existed per procedure EN–OP–104, “Operability Determination Process,” and T–58 (SIRWT) remained operable.
• Condition Report PLP–2011–02740 was written for the active leak from the catacombs ceiling. The operability determination for this CR was copied directly from CR PLP–2011–02738, which was written to document leakage from the 3-inch piping flange, a separate and different condition. The operability determination did not address the actual CR condition, which was a leak from the ceiling; and therefore, possibly the SIRWT.
On June 8, 2011, a Kepner-Tregoe (K–T) team was formed to investigate and identify potential and most likely leakage source. Leakage collection and analysis of the catacombs ceiling leak took place on almost a daily basis since the initial catacombs inspection. However, the analysis results of the leakage varied throughout the collection timeframe. The team could not identify the source of the leakage with 100% certainty.
On June 13, 2011, a contracted engineering firm, Structural Integrity Associates (SIA), was requested to propose a contract to evaluate a potential SIRWT leak.”
“On February 16, 2012, CR PLP–2012–01091 was generated by Operations to perform an operability evaluation on the SIRWT, since it was the suspected source of the catacombs leakage. When correlating the tritium levels in the SIRWT to the catacombs in-leakage tritium levels, the correlation was sufficient to suspect SIRWT leakage. The CR’s operability determination concluded that the SIRWT was operable, using the engineering contingency evaluation developed the previous day.
Repairs to the SIRWT were completed during the March 2012 refueling outage; however, after the outage, additional leakage was identified from the SIRWT and monitored using the leakage acceptance criteria developed in the previous SIA calculation. Leakage progressively worsened until July 2012 when the plant was shut down to conduct additional repairs. The tank floor was replaced during the 2013 fall Refueling Outage.
Based on the evidence gathered in the OI investigation, it appears that four individuals willfully violated NRC requirements by failing to follow site corrective action procedures, when it became known to the individuals that the leakage was most likely originating from the SIRWT. Specifically, these inactions caused the licensee to be in apparent willful violation of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, for their failure to follow procedure EN–LI–102, “Corrective Action Process.” Two other apparent violations were also …”
Related Info; Links
UCS Brief: http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/356082/22663025/1368215737033/20130510-pal-ucs-brief-sirwt.pdf?token=LO1Si2ad5BwPNwUplZnLPcnZnH4%3D
UCS Brief on defective design: http://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1035/ML103540571.pdf