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Hurricane Nate’s path and the Louisiana Nuclear Power Stations – Waterford and River Bend.

Both Louisiana Nuclear Power Stations are up for relicensing. Both appear to have serious issues with thunderstorms, despite their rainy, hurricane-prone locations. It is unclear if this is because of defective breakers, the open-phase defect afflicting all but one US nuclear power station, both, or if they are the same. The open phase defect has been known since 2012. Comment deadline-petition to intervene links for River Bend further below. Petition to intervene deadline is Friday the 13th. Serious accidents would impact the petrochemical corridor, shipping and port operations, apart from the environmental and health impacts. As most Louisiana natives appear too busy with parties and church suppers, other people need to take action. Besides, John Grisham’s Pelican Brief is close to the reality – it’s dangerous to be a Louisiana environmentalist. See: http://youtu.be/AWtlVK-GYHY However, NRC comment can be anonymous. And, it’s also dangerous not to be an environmentalist.

A thunderstorm led to a scram at River Bend Nuclear Power Station followed by a loss of cooling, supposedly the next day. Loss of cooling can lead to a nuclear meltdown, if not corrected quickly enough: “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…http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2016/16-002.iv.pdf 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. It took the US NRC a month to notify people of the loss of cooling. Read more here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/lightening-scrammed-nuclear-reactor-lost-cooling-off-for-weeks-on-again-now-off-usnrc-inspection/

This is the explanation by David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, based on information which we have not yet found – either documents or perhaps interviews with the US NRC or workers: “Special Nuclear Inspection: River Bend Loss of Shutdown Cooling” MAY 24, 2016, http://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/special-nuclear-inspection-river-bend-loss-of-shutdown-cooling

See evacuation zones here: http://www.psr.org/resources/evacuation-zone-nuclear-reactors.html Chernobyl overlay here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/nuclear/nomorechernobyls/exclusion-zone-comparison-map (Killona, Louisiana for Waterford and St. Francisville for River Bend.)

On July 17th, at Waterford Nuclear Power Station near New Orleans, “During a rain and lightning storm, plant operators observed arcing from the main transformer bus duct…

An electric arc – arcing.
Open phase conditions refer to one phase of the three phases being physically or unintentionally disconnected. This might be due to loose cable, a broken conductor, a blown fuse, a circuit breaker with one defective contact etc… It’s a physical and mechanical failure or design failure that prevents the full power from passing through.” (Comment by an engineer.)

Even the US NRC says that “Nuclear power plant systems are powered by electricity delivered through three lines, or “phases.” And, they admit that “If one phase is lost, or “open,” motors and other components can be damaged and emergency power sources might be compromised….https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/open-phase-electric-systems.html

On July 17, 2017 at Waterford Nuclear Power Station on the Mississippi River near New Orleans Louisiana:

During a rain and lightning storm, plant operators observed arcing from the main transformer bus duct and notified the control room. The decision was made to trip the main generator which resulted in an automatic reactor trip. The plant entered EAL SU.1 as a result of the loss of offsite power for greater than fifteen minutes. Plant safety busses are being supplied by both emergency diesel generators while the licensee inspects the electrical system to determine any damage prior to bringing offsite power back into the facility. Offsite power is available to the facility. No offsite assistance was requested by the licensee.

During the trip, all rods inserted into the core. Decay heat is being removed via the atmospheric dump valves with emergency feedwater supplying the steam generators. The main steam isolation valves were manually closed to protect the main condenser. There were no safeties or relief valves that actuated during the plant transient. There is no known primary-to-secondary leakage. Reactor cooling is via natural circulation. All safety equipment is available for the safe shutdown of the plant.

The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the local Parish emergency management agencies.

Notified DHS SWO, FEMA, DHS NICC, FEMA National Watch Center (email) and Nuclear SSA (email).


This notification is also made under 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(D).

“This is a non-emergency notification from Waterford 3.

“On July 17, 2017 at 1606 CDT, the reactor automatically tripped due to a loss of Forced Circulation, which was the result of Loss of Offsite Power (LOOP) to the electrical (safety and non-safety) buses. Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ trains of Emergency Diesel Generators (EDGs) started as designed to reenergize the ‘A’ and ‘B’ safety buses. The LOOP caused a loss of feedwater pumps, resulting in an automatic actuation of the Emergency Feedwater (EFW) system.

“Prior to the reactor trip, at 1600 CDT, personnel noticed the isophase bus duct to main transformer ‘B’ glowing orange due to an unknown reason. Due to this, the main turbine was manually tripped at 1606 CDT. Following the turbine trip, the electrical (safety and non-safety) buses did not transfer to the startup transformers as expected due to an unknown reason.

“The plant entered the Emergency Operating Procedure for LOOP/Loss of Forced Circulation Recovery.

“At 1617 CDT, an Unusual Event was declared due to Initiating Condition (IC) SU1 – Loss of all offsite AC power to safety buses [greater than] 15 minutes.

“All safety systems responded as expected.

“The plant is currently in mode 3 and stable with the EDGs supplying both safety buses and with EFW feeding and maintaining both steam generators. Offsite power is in the process of being restored.”

The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the local Parish emergency management agencies.


The licensee terminated the Notification of Unusual Event at 2056 CDT. The basis for terminating was that offsite power was restored to the safety busses.

The licensee has notified Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, St. John and St. Charles Parishes, Louisiana Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness, and will be notifying the NRC Resident Inspector.

Notified IRD (Stapleton), NRR (King), R4DO (Hipschman), DHS SWO, FEMA, DHS NICC, FEMA National Watch Center (email) and Nuclear SSA (email).
* * * UPDATE FROM SCOTT MEIKLEJOHN TO HOWIE CROUCH AT 1724 EDT ON 7/19/17 * * * This update is being reported under 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(B).
“During the event discussed in EN# 52863, at 1642 CDT [on July 17, 2017], Condensate Storage Pool (CSP) level lowered to less than 92% resulting in entry to Technical Specification (TS) Level in the CSP was lowered due to feeding from both Steam Generators with EFW. Normal makeup to the CSP was temporarily unavailable due to the LOOP. Filling the CSP commenced at 1815 CDT [on July 17, 2017], and TS was exited on July 18, 2017 at 0039 CDT.”
The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector. Notified R4DO (Hipschman).
* * * UPDATE FROM SCOTT MEIKLEJOHN TO HOWIE CROUCH AT 1233 EDT ON 9/14/17 * * * “Waterford 3 is retracting a follow up notification made on July 19, 2017 for EN# 52863, concerning the loss of safety function associated with the Condensate Storage Pool (CSP) per 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(B). The Condensate Storage Pool was performing its required safety function by providing inventory to the Emergency Feed Water pumps when the required Tech Spec level (T.S. dropped below 92%. The Technical Specification was entered at 1624 [CDT] on July 17, 2017 and exited after filling at 0039 on July 18, 2017. The total allowed outage time allowed by Tech Spec is 10 hours to be in Hot Shutdown if not restored. The
Condensate Storage Pool level was restored to greater than 92% prior to exceeding the allowed outage time
. Based on level being restored and the Condensate Storage Pool performing its required safety function, 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(B) does not apply. Prior to the automatic reactor trip, Condensate Storage Pool level was greater than 92%
.” https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2017/20170915en.html When the NRC retracts events, pretending they didn’t happen or didn’t matter, everyone should pay special attention.

No: IV-17-017 August 7, 2017 Contact: Victor Dricks, 817-200-1128
NRC Begins Special Inspection at Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection at the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant to review events that led to and occurred following an unplanned shutdown on July 17. The plant, operated by Entergy Operations, is located near Killona, La.

The plant was operating at full power during a rain and lightning storm when operators decided to shut it down as a precautionary measure. All safety systems responded as expected and the reactor was safely shut down. However, the NRC wants to better understand why some equipment failures occurred.

The two-member NRC team will spend about a week on site developing a chronology of the event, evaluating the licensee’s cause analysis and the adequacy of corrective actions. An inspection report documenting the team’s findings will be publicly available within 45 days of the end of the inspection“.

Click to access ML17223A103.pdf

US NRC staff tried to get interim measures applied for the open phase defect which has been known since 2012. Only Commissioner Baran voted with the staff for more public safety in a timely manner. Commissioner Svinicki and Burns voted in March 2017 for continued foot-dragging which may lead to many deaths and serious damage to the environment and US economy: https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1706/ML17068A330.pdf

At the end of February 2016, seven US NRC engineers filed a complaint with the US NRC about these electric design defects, “design vulnerability”, which exist at all but one US nuclear power station, and demanded prompt regulatory action. (The NRC had been doing bureaucratic “paper pushing” for at least 4 years on the topic.) The engineers noted that “if the preferred power source, has an undetected open phase-condition, redundant trains of electrical equipment (electric motors that drive the pumps and valves) could burn out in few minutes and therefore will not be available for safe shutdown, even after restoration of an operable power source.” https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/view?AccessionNumber=ML16050A223

Waterford renewal application: https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications/waterford.html

Waterford Neutron Fluence Meeting: https://www.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg?do=details&Code=20171159

River Bend renewal application: https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications/river-bend.html

River Bend Petition to Intervene deadline Oct. 13

Click to access 17-040.pdf

River Bend https://www.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg?do=details&Code=20171231

River Bend Station, Unit 1; Intent to Conduct Scoping Process and Prepare Environmental Impact… Due Oct 23, 2017 11:59 PM ET
Posted: 09/20/2017
ID: NRC-2017-0141-0004

River Bend Nuclear Power Station Near St. Francisville Louisiana:
Green. The team identified a finding for the licensee’s failure to identify and correct an adverse condition in a timely manner as required by plant procedures. Specifically, the licensee did not recognize degrading trends associated with incorrect racking of Magne Blast circuit breakers and failures of the Magne Blast circuit breaker for the Reactor Feed Water Pump Motor 1B in a timely manner. For both cases, the licensee failed to initiate corrective action in a timely manner as required by procedure EN-LI-102, “Corrective Action Program.” In response to the NRC’s conclusions, the licensee updated circuit breaker procedures, replaced the Magne Blast circuit breaker for the Reactor Feed Water Pump Motor 1B, and initiated Condition Reports CR-RBS-2015-04259 and CR-RBS-2015-03437. This performance deficiency is more than minor, and therefore a finding, because it is associated with the equipment performance attribute of the Mitigating Systems Cornerstone, and adversely affected the cornerstone objective to ensure the availability, reliability, and capability of systems that respond to initiating events to prevent undesirable consequences.

Specifically, the licensee’s untimely corrective action contributed to the unreliability of the Magne Blast circuit breaker for Reactor Feed Water Pump Motor 1B and increased the potential for spurious trips of other Magne Blast circuit breakers during design basis events due to improper racking. The team performed an initial screening of the finding in accordance with NRC Inspection Manual Chapter 0609, Appendix A, “The Significance Determination Process (SDP) for Findings At-Power.” Using Inspection Manual Chapter 0609, Appendix A, Exhibit 2, “Mitigating Systems Screening Questions,” the finding was of very low safety significance (Green) because it: (1) was not a deficiency affecting the design or qualification of a mitigating structure, system, or component, and did not result in a loss of operability or functionality; (2) did not represent a loss of system and/or function; (3) did not represent an actual loss of function of at least a single train for longer than its technical specification allowed outage time, or two separate safety systems out-of-service for longer than their technical specification allowed outage time; and (4) did not represent an actual loss of function of one or more non-technical specification trains of equipment designated as high safety-significant in accordance with the licensee’s maintenance rule program. This finding has an avoid complacency cross-cutting aspect within the human performance area because the licensee failed to recognize and plan for the possibility of mistakes, latent issues, and inherent risk, even while expecting successful outcomes. Specifically, the licensee tolerated the adverse trends, did not plan for further degradation, and the latent conditions ultimately resulted in several Magne Blast circuit breaker failures in December 2014 before the trend was recognized [H.12]. (Section 2.6.d)https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1604/ML16047A268.pdf







Click to access ML16047A268.pdf


Electric arc released to public domain via wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_arc#/media/File:Electric_arc.jpg