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Our question re the closed Crystal River Nuclear Power Station and Hurricane Irma. (Screenshots of the original correspondance and of NRC documents on the cracked spent fuel pool at Crystal River found at the bottom of this blog post.)
“… despite claims to the contrary, there remains some risk due to the nuclear waste at the Crystal River nuclear site north of Tampa. Are you checking that site? Will you? How many workers does Duke have on site? Do you have any? Any status available re the crack in the spent fuel pool at Crystal River noted by you 5 to 8 years ago? Has anyone examined what happens if the roof comes off of the spent fuel pool and the huge amounts coal dust piled up nearby for the Crystal River coal plant fly into the spent fuel pool? I haven’t found anything.”
At least Mr. Neil Sheehan, NRC Public Affairs officer in Philadelphia, recognizes that this spent nuclear fuel does still need monitoring. Some NRC personnel appear not to recognize this fact. Even though Mr. Sheehan says he isn’t aware of it, 8 years ago there was indeed a crack found in the spent fuel pool at Crystal River Nuclear Power Station, as documented further below. The location of this crack could apparently undermine assumptions regarding spent fuel pool boil-off, as outlined further below. Crystal River normally would not be in Mr. Sheehan’s region, but apparently is now, because it is shutdown.
US NRC Public Affairs Officer, Neil Sheehan, Response:
on https://public-blog.nrc-gateway. gov :
“Moderator September 14, 2017 at 10:12 am
The NRC conducts periodic Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation and decommissioning inspections at the Crystal River nuclear power plant. The next planned inspections are scheduled for October. Although the NRC no longer maintains a resident inspector at Crystal River, when events such as Hurricane Irma occur, communication protocols with plant staff are established. For Hurricane Irma, the NRC’s region-based inspectors received twice-daily status briefings from Crystal River personnel and would have been promptly notified of any deteriorating conditions. No concerns regarding the ISFSI at the plant were identified.
We are not aware of any spent fuel pool cracking at Crystal River. You may be referring to cracking involving the containment building, which led to the plant’s shutdown. As to a potential issue involving the spent fuel pool building’s roof, the plant was required to analyze all possible external hazards and has procedures in place to deal with a wide variety of situations. Neil Sheehan NRC Region I”
From our response: The “hairline crack” was found 8 years ago (ML103220257 ) and could have grown in that time. 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 Note the height of the crack is probably either above mean sea level (1929 standard is generally used by the NRC, rather than the updated 1988 standard which accounts for subsidence, etc. Some of these also used height above average water level.)
This crack in the spent fuel pool apparently could undermine their assumptions regarding boil off time due to leakage, as well as making the spent fuel pool more subject to sudden failure. The graphs in this document appear to show a starting water height of 156 1/2 ft. We also don’t know if they considered the burnup of the spent nuclear fuel, which makes it hot both actually and radiologically because they are related. A few excerpts from their spent fuel boil off document:
As all used fuel resides in the SFPs, the Fuel Handling Accident occurs in the Auxiliary Building (Reference 2.5.8) and hence, the release path is out the Auxiliary Building vent./. Regulatory Guide 1.183 (Reference 2.5.2) provides for an iodine reduction factor of 200 with at least 23 feet of water above the damaged fuel. This would be the case for fuel in the spent fuel racks which are damaged by a heavy load drop, but for a damaged assembly which lies horizontally across the top of the spent fuel racks, the water depth could be slightly less than 23 feet. Therefore, an iodine removal factor of 100 will be used. This is consistent with the previously approved licensing basis analysis (Reference 2.5.3)…. CR-3 calculation F13-0003, Revision 0, determined how much time it takes to reach certain levels in the spent fuel pools following a loss of active spent fuel pool (SFP) cooling based on an initial water temperature of 110°F… Heat-Up Phase – The SFP water temperature and level computed for this scenario are shown in Figure 3.5-1. The data show that boiling commences at 10.0 days after the start of the transient, and the water level at the onset of boiling is 153.8 ft…. There are two water levels of interest in this analysis: 142.88′ and 134′. The latter is the elevation of the bottom of the gate between the two pits (Design Input 4.5), which is of interest because the two SFPs will be isolated from each other at this point, and the former is 10 feet above the top of the fuel assembly storage cell racks in the west pool (Design Input 4.3), which are higher than the racks in the east pool….” https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1634/ML16348A187.pdf
IF YOU THINK THAT TRANSFERRING THE SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL FROM THE SPENT FUEL POOLS TO “DRY CASKS”, AS IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING AT CRYSTAL RIVER, IS A MAGICAL SOLUTION – THINK AGAIN. READ ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH THE SPENT FUEL CANISTERS CURRENTLY IN USE HERE: https://sanonofresafety.org AND, DO A SEARCH FOR HOLTEC AND AREVA IN THE SEARCH WINDOW OF THIS BLOG (THE MINING AWARENESS BLOG ). THE ONLY GOOD NEWS IS THAT CRYSTAL RIVER IS USING THE AREVA CASKS WHICH LIE ON THEIR SIDES AND WOULD THUS APPEAR LESS PRONE TO TOPPLE OVER IN HURRICANE CONDITIONS. BOTH HOLTEC AND AREVA CANISTERS ARE TOO THIN, HOWEVER; WELDED SHUT; AND WITH NO PRESSURE MONITOR IN THE LID. THIS IS IN STARK CONTRAST TO GERMAN CASTOR WHICH HAVE A PRESSURE SENSOR BETWEEN TWO LIDS AND A TEMPERATURE SENSOR, AS WELL AS BEING MUCH, MUCH, MUCH THICKER. BEING WELDED SHUT, THE AREVA AND HOLTEC CASKS CANNOT BE OPENED, WHEREAS THE CASTOR HAVE BOLTED LIDS AND CAN BE REOPENED.
Welded shut Holtec and Areva spent fuel canisters stand in stark contrast to the German CASTOR where a “pressure sensor continuously measures pressure in the gap between the primary and secondary lid“, and the “system is wired to [the] Main Dosimetry Control Room“. There is a temperature sensor for continuous surface temperature monitoring, too. See “Operational Experience of Castor 440/84 Casks in Dukovany NPP” by Stanislav Kuba, 14th International Symposium on the Packaging and Paper # 022 Transportation of Radioactive Materials (PATRAM 2004), Berlin, Germany, September 20-24, 2004. http://www.iaea.org/inis/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/37/088/37088667.pdf
“Area Covered by Region I
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine*, Maryland*, Massachusetts*, New Hampshire*, New Jersey*, New York*, Pennsylvania*, Rhode Island*, Vermont, and Washington, DC.
Region I also oversees materials licensees in Region II.”
“OPA Field Office Region I (Philadelphia)
Sr. Public Affairs Officer: Diane Screnci – 610-337-5330 Public Affairs Officer: Neil Sheehan – 610-337-5331
OPA Field Office Region II (Atlanta)
Sr. Public Affairs Officer: Roger Hannah – 404-997-4417 Public Affairs Officer: Joey Ledford – 404-997-4416
OPA Field Office Region III (Chicago)
Sr. Public Affairs Officer: Viktoria Mitlyng – 630-829-9662 Public Affairs Officer: Prema Chandrathil – 630-829-9663
OPA Field Office Region IV (Dallas)
Sr. Public Affairs Officer: Victor Dricks – 817-200-1128”