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More information here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/update-to-hurricane-irma-nuclear-power-mysteries-us-nrc-contradicts-itself-on-second-turkey-point-nuclear-reactor-shutdown-defective-parts-and-more/. Radar showing Hurricane Irma with its eye north of Cuba and south of the Florida Keys. Turkey Point Nuclear Power Station sits just north of Key Largo on Biscayne Bay.

Turkey Point Nuclear (and non-nuclear) Generating Station on Biscayne Bay.

While Turkey Point Unit 3 started shutdown on Saturday morning ahead of tropical storm winds from Hurricane Irma, Turkey Point Unit 4 reportedly shut itself down “just before Sunday evening due to a valve issue“, according to Roger Hannah (US NRC) on the NRC blog [1]. Rather frighteningly, at “St. Lucie, also in Florida, operators are reducing power on Unit 1 due to salt buildup on insulators in the switchyard that supplies offsite power and plant employees are working to resolve this situation. St. Lucie Unit 2 remains at full power“, writes Hannah (NRC).

St. Lucie Nuclear Power Station sits on a barrier island.

The blog doesn’t mention the causes of valve failure at Turkey Pt, nor of the salt buildup at St. Lucie. A Reuters article, from Monday morning, by Scott DiSavino, entitled “Irma knocks out power to nearly 6.5 million: authorities” said that US NRC officials stated on Monday that the valve problem “probably wasn’t related to Irma” [2]. Hannah (NRC) apparently told Reuters-DiSavino that St. Lucie Unit 1 went to reduced power “because of salt buildup from Irma in the switchyard.” [2]

How did salt buildup get into the switchyard? Was it the long predicted storm surge from Irma? What is the switchyard elevation? Did it have to do with the “Severe weather statement national weather service melbourne fl 742 pm edt sat sep 9 2017 st. lucie fl-indian river fl- 742 pm edt sat sep 9 2017 …a tornado warning remains in effect” where “at 741 pm EDT a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, moving southwest at 25 mph”. There was “radar indicated rotation“. Did this, another tornado, or a waterspout, lift salt water over the St. Lucie switchyard? Or did Irma? What aren’t we being told?

Salt “buildup” sounds longstanding. Why is St. Lucie 1 only at reduced power and St. Lucie Unit 2 at full power? Did they lose offsite power? Florida Power and Light (FPL) CEO Erich Silagy is quoted by Reuters as saying “We’ve never had that many outages….” Where is he from that he doesn’t expect outages in hurricanes and spin-off tornados? This isn’t the right job for him! Why didn’t they shutdown both Turkey Point Nuclear Reactors on Saturday morning since they were under a hurricane warning? “The availability of ac power to commercial nuclear power plants is essential for safe operations and accident recovery. A loss of offsite power (LOOP) event, therefore, is an important contributor to total risk at nuclear power plants.http://nrcoe.inel.gov/resultsdb/LOSP/ In 1993, the US NRC estimated “8 hours to complete an orderly shutdown” They raised concern about the nuclear power station being in the midst of “shutdown when offsite power was lost. Additionally, at Turkey Point (and at other commercial reactors susceptible to hurricane damage), important equipment (e.g., auxiliary feedwater) is located outside and likely would not be accessible during a hurricane“, they pointed out. (See more below).

Hurricanes and tornados generally knock out power for a lot of people, as well as nuclear power stations. FPL needs a new CEO if Erich Silagy doesn’t know that. His statement is found both here and the earlier article: “Irma knocks out power to nearly 6.5 million: authorities 
Posted:Mon, 11 Sep 2017 14:12:43 -0400
(Reuters) – Hurricane Irma knocked out power to about 6.5 million homes and businesses in the U.S. Southeast, mostly in Florida, according to state officials and local electric utilities.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/environment/~3/slZY1RCc_Ac/irma-knocks-out-power-to-nearly-6-5-million-authorities-idUSKCN1BM16K Above is an updated version of the article by DiSavino which isn’t as useful as the original. The updated version has Bernie Woodall as lead author, along with DiSavino as secondary author. The original DiSavino article also quotes Hannah (NRC) as saying that Crystal River Nuclear Power Station isn’t a problem. That, however, isn’t totally true. There remains some risk due to the nuclear waste at the Crystal River nuclear site north of Tampa. Is the US NRC checking that site? How many workers, if any, does Duke have on site monitoring the spent fuel pools? Does the NRC have any? What happened to the crack in the spent fuel pool at Crystal River noted by the NRC 8 years ago during the July 15, 2009 NRC walkdown? Has anyone examined what happens if the roof comes off of the spent fuel pool and the huge amounts of coal dust piled up nearby for the Crystal River coal plant fly into the spent fuel pool?

In “Safety Evaluation Report With Open Items Related to the License Renewal of Crystal River Unit 3 Nuclear Generating Plant Docket No. 50-302, December 2010, the USNRC “staff noted that there is a hairline crack in the spent fuel pool south wall, and the applicant has concluded in the inspection report to inspect and monitor it on a yearly interval. During its audit, the staff performed a walkdown on July 15, 2009, and found this hairline crack location at elevation 143 foot was dry at that time. The staff also walked down the leak chase channel drain points to ensure that the leak chase channel system is functioning. The staff noted one of the pipe ends appeared to contain mineral deposition and there was blockage of the leak chase channels that can potentially cause leakage of the borated water from the spent fuel through the floor and walls of the spent fuel pool. By letter dated September 11, 2009, the staff issued RAI B.2.30-5 requesting that the applicant provide a summary of the daily records of the leakage data collected at its spent fuel leak chase channel piping. Specifically, the staff requested that the applicant provide information about the time frame when initial leakage of the leak chase piping stopped and the actions that were taken to clean the leak chase piping….” (p. 3-142). It was also noted that “Boral, boron steel spent fuel storage racks neutron-absorbing sheets exposed to treated water or treated borated water (3.3.1-13), Aging Effect/ Mechanism: Reduction of neutron-absorbing capacity and loss of material due to general corrosion” (p. 3-256) https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1032/ML103220257.pdf What is the status of these items now that the Crystal River nuclear power station is shutdown, but the spent nuclear fuel remains on site? The suppositions that it is ok are based on assumptions that may not correspond to reality. While hoping that NRC assumptions hold this time, are they checking?

The following is an excerpt from a document about problems and lessons supposedly learned from Hurricane Andrew: “Adequacy of Timing of Plant Shutdown in Anticipation of a Hurricane: Turkey Point procedures for timing of a plant shutdown in anticipation of a hurricane require that the plant be in at least Mode 4 (i.e., hot shutdown) 2 hours before the onset of hurricane-force winds at the site. Estimating 8 hours to complete an orderly shutdown, the licensee began a plant shutdown approximately 12 hours before the predicted landfall of the hurricane. As a result, both units were in Mode 4 when Hurricane Andrew struck. However, the licensee commitments in response to the station blackout rule only require the licensee to commence shutdown at least 2 hours before the onset of hurricane-force winds. Therefore, starting a plant shutdown strictly in accordance with the licensee commitments could have resulted in the plant being in the midst of a dual-unit shutdown when offsite power was lost. Additionally, at Turkey Point (and at other commercial reactors susceptible to hurricane damage), important equipment (e.g., auxiliary feedwater) is located outside and likely would not be accessible during a hurricane.” https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/1993/in93053.html

According to Saturday’s Miami Herald, “FPL shuts down one nuclear reactor at Turkey Point” BY NANCY DAHLBERG, SEPTEMBER 09, 2017 1:49 PM. It was reported that FPL started shutting one of the two Turkey Point nuclear reactors down on early Saturday morning. They left St. Lucie nuclear power station operating at full power. When was this decision made? The area was already under a hurricane warning Friday night. While the height of predicted possible storm surge flooding decreased, there still remained the possibility of very heavy rainfall, as well as of some storm surge flooding in the area of the site (s). Late Friday night, Hurricane Irma was still at 160 mph sustained winds, though by Saturday morning it was 130 mph sustained winds with higher gusts. There were known risks of spin-off tornados. Tornados were confirmed in the Miami area, and apparently occurred in the St. Lucie area, as well. Note that the one Turkey Point nuclear reactor was only shutdown to the extent that nuclear reactors can shutdown without fuel removal. It was taken offline and power reduced. The second was going full power and shut itself down. Hurricane force winds impacted Miami, so certainly impacted Turkey Point, which is further south.

[2] “Irma knocks out power to nearly 6.5 million: authorities” by Scott DiSavino, Reuters, Environment, September 11, 2017, 5:51 am, as updated in the late morning or afternoon.
[1] “NRC Continues to Respond to Irma
Posted by Moderator on September 11, 2017
Roger Hannah
Senior Public Affairs Officer, Region II
As Irma (now a tropical storm) continues to track through the southeast, the NRC continues to monitor its path and the nuclear power plants potentially along that route.

Turkey Point Unit 3, in south Florida, remains safely shut down, as it has been since Saturday. Turkey Point Unit 4 shut down automatically just before 7 p.m. Sunday evening due to a valve issue. The shutdown was uncomplicated, the plant is in a safe condition, and winds and rain have diminished at the site such that the plant staff exited their declaration of an unusual event at 4 a.m. Three NRC resident inspectors remain at the site, but the agency is now assessing steps to return to its normal inspection staffing within the next day or two.

At St. Lucie, also in Florida, operators are reducing power on Unit 1 due to salt buildup on insulators in the switchyard that supplies offsite power and plant employees are working to resolve this situation. St. Lucie Unit 2 remains at full power. Two NRC resident inspectors remain at the site, but it is expected that NRC will return to normal inspection staffing at this site, also within a day or two.

As of Monday morning, the Region II Incident Response Center staff is monitoring potential effects from the storm on the Hatch nuclear plant in south Georgia and the Farley nuclear plant in south Alabama. The two units at Hatch and the two units at Farley are currently at full power. Even though the staffs at both sites have completed storm preparations, it appears that projected winds will not be strong enough to affect plant operations at these two locations.

The NRC’s Region II continues to be in monitoring mode and the Incident Response Center in Atlanta is staffed. However, predicted wind and rain from the storm has prompted the closure of the Region II office as well as other federal agencies in the area.” https://public-blog.nrc-gateway. gov/2017/09/11/nrc-continues-to-respond-to-irma