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Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station has the most powerful single nuclear reactor in the US, when it’s working, which it isn’t and apparently hasn’t for the last 3 months. Problems were reported, intermittently, in the months preceding its shutdown. Grand Gulf Nuclear first operated over 31 years ago – July 1, 1985. That is old for a car, but this is a nuclear power station! Ionizing radiation adds additional material stresses.

Nonetheless, the US NRC has just decided that Grand Gulf will be allowed to operate until 2044, or 59 years, even though a special inspection report regarding serious safety concerns is still pending, and even though it’s not working.
December 7 2016 Grand Gulf Nuclear Reactor at 0% zero
Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station at 0% Electric Output All Reactor Status over last 365 Days found here in one list: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/reactor-status/PowerReactorStatusForLast365Days.txt

On Halloween, October 31st, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it had “begun a special inspection at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station to review circumstances surrounding several recent operational events.” [“Events” is their euphemism and can mean very dangerous problems.] “The plant, operated by Entergy Operations, Inc. and located in Port Gibson, Miss., has been shut down since Sept. 8… On Sept. 23, following maintenance on the residual heat removal system, workers discovered that a misalignment of valves had rendered the plant’s alternate decay heat removal system unavailable. Technical specifications require that the alternate system be available when one of the plant’s two residual heat removal systems is out of service. The system is used to remove decay heat from the reactor following shutdown. The following day, when preparing to restart the reactor, control room operators caused an unexpected increase in reactor vessel water level due to a misalignment of valves“. Entire news release at link and at bottom of our post: http://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1630/ML16305A118.pdf Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of the days honoring the dead, which is very fitting. Insanely, they have extended its operation to November 1st, 2044, All Saints Day which honors the “dearly departed” dead. The reactor was given its initial operating license on November 1, 1984, but only started operating on July 1st, 1985. The original license expires on November 1, 2024, but Entergy applied for the extension to its operating license on November 1st, 2011- All Saints, and the same year that the TEPCO Fukushima nuclear disaster commenced! Entergy is based in the City of New Orleans, where this was a holiday at the time it was initially licensed. So, they knew the meaning of this day.

A list and description of outages-events over the last year; an excerpt from an earlier inspection; and screenshots of the NRC news releases are found toward the bottom of this blog post.

No: 16-071 December 1, 2016 Contact: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200
NRC Renews Operating License of Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Mississippi
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, Unit 1, for an additional 20 years, through Nov. 1, 2044… The operator, Entergy Operations Inc., submitted the renewal application Nov. 1, 2011.
“. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2016/16-071.pdf

A Mechanical or Electrical Failure in Conjunction with Stuck Valve Led to the Three Mile Island Nuclear Meltdown, according to the US NRC: “Either a mechanical or electrical failure prevented the main feedwater pumps from sending water to the steam generators that remove heat from the reactor core. This caused the plant’s turbine-generator and then the reactor itself to automatically shut down. Immediately, the pressure in the primary system (the nuclear portion of the plant) began to increase. In order to control that pressure, the pilot-operated relief valve (a valve located at the top of the pressurizer) opened. The valve should have closed when the pressure fell to proper levels, but it became stuck open. Instruments in the control room, however, indicated to the plant staff that the valve was closed. As a result, the plant staff was unaware that cooling water was pouring out of the stuck-open valve” (USNRC summary)

Note that Three Mile Island Nuclear Disaster was well underway within 2 hours (6 am) of the reactor trip (4 am). See “Timeline of Events Occurring During the Three Mile Island Disaster” Online Ethics Center for Engineering 2/16/2006 OEC Accessed: Thursday, December 8, 2016. http://www.onlineethics.org/Resources/tmiindex/time.aspx

A serious nuclear disaster at Grand Gulf will shut down Mississippi River shipping, dealing a serious and perhaps lethal blow to the US economy, along with its people. Windscale and Chernobyl taught us that fallout from nuclear accidents can seriously impact places far-far away.

The presence of the Grand Gulf Power Station has not pulled Claibome County out of its high poverty level, on the contrary. In 1980, the poverty rate in the county was 32.9% (NAACP, NIRS, Public Citizen, Sierra Club comment: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0413/ML041320391.pdf )

As of 2015 the US Census estimated the population as 9,150 people, 84.1% black, with a poverty rate of 42.6%. Nearby Jefferson County has a poverty rate of 38.5% and is 85.1% black.

Claiborne County is in the 20 poorest US counties by median income (half of the population above; half below). Neighboring Jefferson County is barely out of the 20 poorest.

Clearly, Grand Gulf has done nothing good for this area. Rather it is actively contaminating people and the environment, including precious agricultural land through legal discharges of radioactive materials, and sometimes illegal discharges of radioactive materials.

Excerpt from Grand Gulf Inspection Report:
The Grand Gulf Nuclear Station began the inspection period at 87 percent power.
On January 1, 2016, the operators reduced power to approximately 59 percent to perform power suppression testing. Upon completion, operators performed power ascension activities to reach 100 percent power on January 9, 2016.

On Februrary 19, 2016, the operators commenced a planned shutdown from 95 percent power for Refueling Outage 20.

On March 28, 2016, the licensee completed Refueling Outage 20. Operators commenced power ascension and restart activites.

On March 29, 2016, at approximately 35 percent power, a turbine trip occurred that resulted in a reactor scram. The turbine trip was due to indication of a high differential current on phase B of the main transformer.

On March 30, 2016, operators commenced power ascension, and on March 31, 2016, Grand Gulf Nuclear Station was at approximately 49 percent power.

Cornerstones: Initiating Events, Mitigating Systems, and Barrier Integrity
1R01 Adverse Weather Protection (71111.01)
Readiness for Impending Adverse Weather Conditions
a. Inspection Scope
On January 21, February 23, and March 17, 2016, the inspectors completed inspections of the station’s readiness for impending adverse weather conditions. The inspectors reviewed plant design features, the licensee’s procedures to respond to tornadoes and high winds, and the licensee’s implementation of these procedures. The inspectors evaluated operator staffing and accessibility of controls and indications for those systems required to control the plant.
on January 27, 2016, the inspectors observed one emergent work activity that had the potential to cause an initiating event. Specifically, the licensee had to place the reactor protection system train A to the alternate source of power due to high voltage indications on the normal source of power.
4OA3 Follow-up of Events and Notices of Enforcement Discretion (71153)
1 Undervoltage Condition on Division II 4160 V Bus Resulted in Automatic Start of Division II Diesel Generator
a. Inspection Scope
On March 17, 2016, Grand Gulf Nuclear Station was in Mode 5 and in Refuelling Outage 20. A lightning strike or equipment malfunction occurred on the Port Gibson 115 kV offsite power line, which caused an undervoltage condition on the safety-related, division II, 4160 V bus, and a subsequent auto-start of the engineered safety features division II diesel generator. During this event, the licensee lost the shutdown cooling train that was supplying cooling. The operators recovered shutdown cooling within four minutes, resulting in no increase in water temperature. The licensee considered this a loss of safety function and made Event Notification Report 51800. The plant equipment responded appropriately. No emergency core cooling systems
actuated. The licensee entered this event into their corrective action process as condition report CR-GGN-1-2016-02513.
b. Findings
No findings were identified.
2 Reactor Scram Following a Turbine Trip Caused by Indicated High Differential Current on Phase B of the Main Transformer
a. Inspection Scope
On March 29, 2016, the inspectors responded to the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station control room to observe recovery actions following the reactor scram. At approximately 11:23 a.m., the reactor was at 35 percent power when a turbine trip occurred that resulted in a reactor scram. The turbine trip was due to indication of a high differential current on phase B of the main transformer. The plant equipment responded appropriately. There were no emergency core cooling systems that actuated and no engineered safety features equipment that activated.

The inspectors independently reviewed data logs, observed prodecure usage, and observed control room indications to confirm the initiating cause of the trip. The preliminary cause was identified to be a current transformer wiring issue on the phase B of the main transformer. The licensee corrected the current transformer wiring and monitored the transformer during power ascension activities, with no anomalies noted. The licensee entered this event into their corrective action process as Condition Report CR-GGN-1-2016-02950.” The entire report is found here: http://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1611/ML16119A289.pdf
In some parts of this document it is unclear if they are testing for degraded equipment specific to Grand Gulf or if it is simply a standard review.

List of Recent Problems “Events” at Grand Gulf (This list may be incomplete).
Event Number: 52044
“At 1407 [CDT], during power ascension to 100 percent, turbine control valves closed unexpectedly causing reactor protection trip signals that in turn caused a reactor scram. Reactor scram, turbine trip ONEPs [Off Normal Event Procedure], and EP2 [Emergency Procedure for Level Control] were entered. Reactor water level was stabilized at 36 inches narrow range on startup level and reactor pressure stabilized at 935 psig using bypass valves. No other safety system actuations occurred and all systems performed as designed.”

All control rods inserted. Reactor level is maintained by feedwater. Normal electrical shutdown configuration is through offsite electrical power sources. The Safety Relief Valves lifted, then closed. The plant is stable at normal level and pressure and remains in Mode 3. The event is under licensee investigation.

The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector“.

On Friday, 17 June, 2016 “AUTOMATIC REACTOR SCRAM DURING TESTING. “During planned stop and control valve testing, two main turbine high pressure stop valves closed instead of the expected one (stop valve ‘B’). This caused the main turbine control valves, power, reactor pressure to swing and a division 2 half SCRAM. Control rods were inserted to reduce power and the power swings. At 0257 [CDT] the reactor automatically SCRAMMED. Reactor SCRAM, Turbine Trip [procedures] ONEPs and EP-2 were entered. Reactor water level was stabilized at 34 inches narrow range on startup level control and reactor pressure stabilized at 884 psig using main turbine bypass valves. No other safety related systems actuated and all systems performed as expected.”

The plant is in its normal shutdown electrical lineup using normal feedwater and turbine bypass valves for decay heat removal. Reactor pressure is slowly trending down. The licensee is investigating the cause of the second stop valve shutting.

The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

On Tuesday, 29 March, 2016 “REACTOR SCRAM DUE TO TURBINE TRIP, Event Number: 51827 
”A Reactor Scram occurred at 1123 CDT on 03/29/2016 from 35% CTP [core thermal power]. The cause of the Scram appears to be a Turbine Generator trip. The station’s procedures, ’05-S-01-EP-2 RPV [Reactor Pressure Vessel] Control, 05-1-02-I-1 Reactor Scram ONEP [Off Normal Event Procedure] and 05-1-02-l-2 Turbine Generator Trip ONEP,’ were entered to mitigate the transient with all systems responding as designed. No loss of offsite or ESF [engineered safety feature] power occurred. No ECCS [emergency core cooling systems] initiation signals were reached and no ESF or Diesel Generator initiations occurred. All control rods fully inserted. MSIVs [main steam isolation valves] remained open, no SRVs [safety relief valves] lifted, and no containment isolation signals were generated.

“Currently, reactor water level is being maintained by the Condensate and Feedwater System in normal band and reactor pressure and temperature are being maintained by the Reactor Water Cleanup System. The main condenser is available. There are no challenges to Primary or Secondary Containment at this time.

“The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

On March 17, 2016 at Grand Gulf During Refueling Outage:
Event Number: 51800

“At 1515 [CDT] on March 17th 2016, Grand Gulf Nuclear Station received a valid actuation signal of the Division 2 Engineered Safety Feature (ESF) Load Shedding and Sequencing system. The actuation signal was most likely caused by a lightning strike to the offsite power source supplying this ESF bus. This caused a loss of the in service shutdown cooling system and associated system actuations.

“Grand Gulf Nuclear Station (GGNS) was in Mode 5 at 85 [degrees] F coolant temperature. Reactor Cavity was flooded to High Water Level with a time to reach 200 [degrees] F of 7.5hrs. GGNS is conducting a planned refuel outage with core alterations in progress. Systems were aligned as follows:

“Division 2 Diesel Generator was OPERABLE and the associated ESF bus aligned to transformer ESF12 (115KV Port Gibson offsite feeder). Residual Heat Removal (RHR) system ‘B’ was in service in shutdown cooling being supplied from this ESF bus (16AB) with Alternate Decay Heat Removal available as a backup.

Division 3 Diesel Generator was unavailable due to planned maintenance on support systems. The associated ESF bus was also aligned to transformer ESF12 (115KV Port Gibson offsite feeder).

“Division 1 Diesel Generator was available and the associated ESF bus aligned to the transformer ESF 11 (Switchyard offsite power feeders Baxter-Wilson and Franklin). Power was never lost to this bus. RHR ‘A’ and Low Pressure Core Spray (LPCS) were not available due to planned maintenance (tagged out of service).

“ESF 21 Transformer was out of service for planned maintenance.

“A suspected lightning strike caused a momentary perturbation in power in the 115KV Port Gibson line causing the Division 2 Load Shedding and Sequencing (LSS) system to actuate. This actuation caused a loss of Residual Heat Removal system ‘B’ due to being shed (expected). The Division 2 Diesel Generator started and tied onto the bus as expected, restoring power in 7 seconds. Shutdown cooling was restored at 1518 [CDT] and was out of service for 3 mins 13 sec. Reactor coolant and spent fuel pool temperatures remained at 85 [degrees] F throughout this scenario. Core Alterations were suspended and fuel placed in its designated location per the approved movement plan. Division 3 systems; High Pressure Core Spray, Standby Service Water System ‘C’, and Division 3 Diesel Generator were tagged out of service for planned maintenance. Division 3 Diesel Generator received a valid actuation signal but did not start due to being out of service. The Division 3 bus was restored manually to ESF 11.

“All safety systems operated as expected for the loss of power to ESF 12 and Division 2 LSS actuation.

“This is being reported under:
1. 10CFR50.72(b)(3)(iv)(A)-Specified system actuation; Division 2 LSS and Division 3 Diesel Generator start logic.
2. 10CFR50.72(b)(3)(v)(B)-RHR Capability; Loss of shutdown cooling.”

The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified.“. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2016/20160318en.html

Wednesday, 07 October, 2015: “SECONDARY CONTAINMENT RENDERED INOPERABLE, Event Number: 51459 “At 1930 [CDT] on 10-7-2015, GGNS [Grand Gulf Nuclear Station] identified that on October 1, 2015, Secondary Containment was inoperable between 0324 and 0440 and therefore could have prevented fulfillment of its safety function. That event is being reported under 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(c), as any event or condition that, at the time of discovery, could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of structures or systems that are needed to control the release of radioactive material.

“During the Standby Gas Treatment drawdown surveillance performed October 1, 2015, Secondary Containment failed technical specification required average enclosure building pressure of less than or equal to -0.311 water gauge at 0324 [CDT] (LCO-1-TS-15-0360 entered).

“Secondary Containment has two boundaries that can be separately credited for meeting the Tech Spec requirements of TS

“Two inner doors are required to be open during the surveillance in order to test the outer door. While open, those inner doors were attended by Security personnel provided with communications capability.

“Following completion of the surveillance, Secondary Containment was returned to operable status at 0440 on 10/1/15 by closing the inner doors and maintaining them closed.

“A subsequent Standby Gas Treatment drawdown surveillance test on October 6, 2015, was performed satisfactorily.”

The NRC Resident Inspector was notified.http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2015/20151008en.html

On October 6, 2015: “INADVERTENT EMERGENCY SIREN ACTUATION Event Number: 51457

“At 1333 [CDT] on 10-6-2015, GGNS [Grand Gulf Nuclear Station] was notified by Claiborne County Civil Defense that the Public Notification System (ANS) Sirens in Claiborne County had been inadvertently initiated by Claiborne County at 1330 today.

“In response, GGNS informed Claiborne County, MS, State of Mississippi, Tensas Parish, LA, the State of Louisiana and other government agencies of a spurious actuation of the emergency response sirens in Claiborne County. The duration of the siren actuation was approximately 2 minutes. Upon cancellation of the siren activation command at 1332, the Claiborne County Emergency Director issued a ‘NO EMERGENCY’ message via CODE RED and Tone Alert Radio.

“At approximately 1342, Claiborne County Emergency Management Agency also faxed a ‘NO EMERGENCY’ Emergency Alert System message transmission request to the following television stations: WJMI, WLBT, and WJTV.”

The licensee stated Claiborne County technicians believed this was caused by human error.

The Licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

Monday, 07 June, 2015 “FIRE IN PROTECTED AREA, Event Number: 51137
At 2359 EDT on June 7, 2015, the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station declared a Notice of Unusual Event in accordance with Emergency Action Level HU4 for a fire in the protected area lasting greater than 15 minutes. The fire started in the wiring of a terminal box for Electro Hydraulic Pump C, the running pump located in the turbine building. The running pump was then deenergized by operators and the standby pump started. The site fire brigade responded and extinguished the fire. The emergency was terminated at 0030 on June 8, 2015.

The licensee notified state and local agencies and will inform the NRC Resident Inspector.

Notified R4DO (Whitten), NRR EO (Howe), and IRD (GOTT).

Notified DHS SWO, FEMA Ops Center, NICC Watch Officer, and FEMA NWC and Nuclear SSA via email.

Saturday, 07 February, 2015, “REACTOR SCRAM Event Number: 50795
A reactor SCRAM occurred at 1856 CST on 2/7/15 from 100 percent core thermal power. The cause of the SCRAM appears to be a Generator/Turbine trip, but it is still under investigation.

“Appropriate off-normal event procedures were entered to mitigate the transient with all systems responding as designed. No loss of offsite or ESF power occurred. No ECCS initiation signals were reached, and no ECCS or Emergency Diesel Generator initiations occurred.

“Main Steam Isolation Valves remained open and Safety Relief Valves lifted and reseated as designed. Currently, reactor water level is being maintained by the Condensate and Feedwater system in normal band, and reactor pressure is being controlled via turbine bypass valves to the main condenser.”

Following the reactor SCRAM, all rods fully inserted and all systems functioned as expected. The plant is in a normal electrical lineup.
The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector

Entergy asks to Test Containment Valve Leakage LESS FREQUENTLY
May 27,2015
U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Attn: Document Control Desk Washington, DC 20555-0001
Entergy Operations, Inc. P.o. Box 756 Port Gibson, MS 39150
Kevin Mulligan Site Vice President Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Tel. (601) 437-7500
SUBJECT: Application to Revise Technical Specifications for Permanent Extension of Type C Leak Rate Testing Frequency and Reduction of Type Band C Grace Intervals Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Docket No. 50-416 License No. NPF-29
Dear Sir or Madam:
Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.90, Entergy Operations, Inc. (Entergy) hereby requests an amendment to Operating License No. NPF-29 for Grand Gulf Nuclear Station (GGNS), Unit 1. The proposed amendment revises GGNS Technical Specifications (TS) 5.5.12, “10 CFR 50, Appendix J, Testing Program,” to allow for a permanent extension to the Type C containment isolation valve leakage rate testing frequency. Specifically, the proposed change would allow an extension from the current 60 month frequency to a 75 month frequency

Click to access ML15147A599.pdf

Staircase from the Windsor Plantation Ruins, now located at Alcorn State University
Staircase from the Windsor Plantation Ruins. The staircase is now at Alcorn State University, the first black land grant college in the USA. Both are near Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station. Clearly the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station is a blight on the landscape in every sense of the word.
Grand Gulf Steam
31 Oct. 2016 Special Inspection Grand Gulf:  ML16305A118
1 December 2016, NRC Renews Operating License of Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Mississippi