Fireman Eyewitness: “It looked like a lot of smoke coming from containment building” at Byron nuclear plant — Had to be told it was steam — Original call said a building at Byron nuclear plant was filling up with smoke (VIDEO)

Published: January 30th, 2012 at 7:33 pm ET
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Follow-up to UPDATED: Emergency shutdown at Illinois reactor -- Smoke was actually steam containing radioactive material -- Workers evacuated -- Releases will continue throughout day (PHOTO)


Title: Fire crews called to Byron nuclear plant for rare, unusual event
Source: WREX
Date: Jan 30, 2012

Transcript Summary

Fireman: We received a call out to the power plant… the original call… the way we received it was they had some smoke in the building out there… the building filling up with smoke… so obviously we dispatched out a full complement of vehicles there. [...]

As I was approaching the scene originally, it looked like a lot of smoke coming from the containment building, but in the end it was steam the power plant was manually releasing… they had some type of issue at the plant and had to release steam.

At 1:45 in

Fireman: On the way out [to the plant] we did not know it was steam when we arrived we were told that that’s what it was

See also: Reporters at Byron Press Conference: A lot of people are calling us about a loud noise -- Was a special emergency response team on scene? (VIDEO)

Published: January 30th, 2012 at 7:33 pm ET
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Related Posts

  1. Video: Reactor No. 1 containment filled with smoke or steam — “What destroyed the inside like this? Earthquake? Explosion?” September 27, 2012
  2. TV: Workers say ground under Fukushima plant is cracking and radioactive steam is coming up — Melted core may be moving out of building (VIDEO) August 17, 2011
  3. Smoke/steam pouring out of Reactor Units No. 2, 3, 4 (PHOTOS & VIDEOS) May 11, 2011
  4. NHK: Gov’t assumed Fukushima Reactor No. 1 ‘completely ruined’ within days of 3/11 — Reddish-brown smoke shot up after explosion says nuclear expert eyewitness (VIDEO) November 4, 2012
  5. AP: Why was smoke seen at Illinois nuke plant, but no fire? January 31, 2012

26 comments to Fireman Eyewitness: “It looked like a lot of smoke coming from containment building” at Byron nuclear plant — Had to be told it was steam — Original call said a building at Byron nuclear plant was filling up with smoke (VIDEO)

  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    If they tell you its steam, its smoke. If they tell you its smoke, its steam.
    If they tell you its safe, GTFO fast!


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  • Bobby1

    Like firemen can’t tell the difference between smoke and steam.


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  • arclight arclight

    Whistleblowers Say Nuclear Regulatory Commission Watchdog Is Losing Its Bite

    “When he retired after 26 years as an investigator with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of the Inspector General, George Mulley thought his final report was one of his best.

    Mulley had spent months looking into why a pipe carrying cooling water at the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois had rusted so badly that it burst. His report cited lapses by a parade of NRC inspectors over six years and systemic weaknesses in the way the NRC monitors corrosion.

    But rather than accept Mulley’s findings, the inspector general’s office rewrote them. The revised report shifted much of the blame to the plant’s owner, Exelon, instead of NRC procedures. And instead of designating it a public report and delivering it to Congress, as is the norm, the office put it off-limits. A reporter obtained it only after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

    The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has thrust the NRC’s role as industry overseer squarely in the spotlight, but another critical player in U.S. nuclear safety is the NRC’s Office of the Inspector General, an independent agency that serves as watchdog to the watchdog.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/07/29/282898/july-29-news-japan-plans-for-reduced-dependence-on-nuclear-energy-stable-thermal-energy-storage/?mobile=nc


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  • bmurr bmurr

    30years and he doesnt know what smoke looks like?


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  • You know they must have different frequency’s to use on radio’s when there is an event, wouldn’t want it to get out to public !


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  • Erosmith

    “…it was steam the power plant was manually releasing…”

    “Byron Station is designed to depressurize to reduce steam pressure as part of the many redundant safety systems built into the facility.”

    That plant should be shut down…


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    • Erosmith,
      Even during a SCRAM ?

      This was a trip shut down (they don’t know what cause it yet) and so it has to be manually valved to release pressure !


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      • Bones Bones

        So the steam that is coming out now is from the turbine steam area? How does the water in the second cooling loop become contaminated with tritium? Is it from irradiation from the reactor coolant loop at the condensers?


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        • It is water in reactor before heated to steam by a controlled nuclear reaction to produce heat in the containment vessel crating steam to drive the turbines, passing through the turbine’s being used then, then condensed back to water in the condenser were it cools turning back to water to continue the cycle, for cooling the reactor in a closed loop cycle being pumped back into the containment vessel to be heated again ! It is next to the controlled nuclear reactions gathering Tritium !
          Tritium is also produced in heavy water-moderated reactors whenever a deuterium nucleus captures a neutron. This reaction has a quite small absorption cross section, making heavy water a good neutron moderator, and relatively little tritium is produced. Even so, cleaning tritium from the moderator may be desirable after several years to reduce the risk of its escaping to the environment.

          Tritium is an uncommon product of the nuclear fission of uranium-235, plutonium-239, and uranium-233, with a production of about one per each 10,000 fissions.[7][8] This means that the release or recovery of tritium needs to be considered in the operation of nuclear reactors, especially in the reprocessing of nuclear fuels and in the storage of spent nuclear fuel. The production of tritium was not a goal, but is rather just a side-effect.

          Tritium for American nuclear weapons was produced in special heavy water reactors at the Savannah River Site until their close-downs in 1988. With the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) after the end of the Cold War, the existing supplies were sufficient for the new, smaller number of nuclear weapons for some time.

          The production of tritium was resumed with irradiation of rods containing lithium (replacing the usual control rods containing boron, cadmium, or hafnium), at the reactors of the commercial Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station in 2003–2005 followed by extraction of tritium from the rods at the new Tritium Extraction Facility[11] at the…


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    • Steam mixing into the air that the unknowing firemen may well have breathed the tritium as it mix with air around the plant !
      No immediate health affects !

      Health risks

      Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen, which allows it to readily bind to hydroxyl radicals, forming tritiated water (HTO), and to carbon atoms. Since tritium is a low energy beta emitter, it is not dangerous externally (its beta particles are unable to penetrate the skin), but it is a radiation hazard when inhaled, ingested via food or water, or absorbed through the skin.[14][15][16][17] HTO has a short biological half-life in the human body of 7 to 14 days, which both reduces the total effects of single-incident ingestion and precludes long-term bioaccumulation of HTO from the environment[16].

      Tritium has leaked from 48 of 65 nuclear sites in the United States, detected in groundwater at levels exceeding the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards by up to 375 times.[18]

      Regulatory limits

      The legal limits for tritium in drinking water vary from country-to-country and from continent-to-continent. Some figures are given below.
      Canada: 7,000 becquerel per liter (Bq/L).
      United States: 740 Bq/L or 20,000 picocurie per liter (pCi/L) (Safe Drinking Water Act)
      World Health Organization: 10,000 Bq/L.
      European Union: “investigative” limit of 100 Bq/L.

      The American limit is calculated to yield a dose of 4.0 millirems (or 40 microsieverts in SI units) per year. This is about 1.3% of the natural background radiation (roughly 3000 microsieverts).
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium


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  • americancommntr

    Well, I hope the firemen can fully understand the public concern. Every nuclear plant and spent fuel pool is a potential source of widespread devastation.

    If a coal-fired plant has a serious problem, maybe the coal pile burns or there’s a steam or dust explosion, at worst.

    If a nuclear power plant has a serious problem, an area the size of TWO WESTERN STATES is destroyed, made uninhabitable, and the mess spreads for centuries.

    Running to nuclear-related emergencies has fooled firemen before, too. Grass fires, or a hay bale fire, at contaminated ground, releases particulates which could certainly cause cancer. The dust and vegetation around plants could be contaminated. Breathing air with tritium can’t be good, either. Nuclear plants have little to no credibility. They are probably, as someone has already said on another article today, had release of other gases besides tritium in this event. If true, they are then shown to be lying or minimizing this event, outright.

    And the record shows, the public is the last to be officially told anything, if ever, when a nuclear plant has a problem.


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    • We are playing with a technology we do not have the means to control or contain, it should have been left in the ground in it’s natural state !


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      • Bones Bones

        That is the whole point. We still have not figured out how to close the nuclear cycle. It is worse than fossil fuels and that is a statement. Does any rational person believe it is good to use a fuel source that turns into an even more deadly waste? This will happen more and more as nothing is changed and reactors get even older. It will not be stopped without a revolution. Too many of the owning class have stakes in it. Hell, I’d be that the U.S. fearmongering of Iran is because Iran’s production of nuclear fuel rods is going to outpace the U.S.’s manufacturing output.


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  • americancommntr

    The only reliable news the public gets is from some unbiased neighbors downwind, with radiation detectors.


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  • Nigwil

    If the nuke is venting steam that is most likely to be from the primary cooling circuit. That means a failure of primary containment cooling for some reason. The water producing the steam will have been in contact with the fuel rods, so is likely to be carrying the usual suspects in terms of isotopes.

    Move up wind, and dont come back.


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  • NukaShima NukaShima

    I wonder how much the power company paid to train him on giving interviews???


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  • The firemen are trained in radiation safety by the public relations folks who work for the state and the resident nuclear company.

    Cozy is cozy and most firefighters do not have college degrees in science and therefore may be unfamiliar with the nature of radiation, hence they may be more easily led on this particular issue.

    Indeed, I had an emergency room doctor hand me one of those absurd comparison charts that neglect to tell you that CT scans cause cancer and INTERNAL BETA/AlPHA contamination is way different than exposure for a second or two to gamma.

    This is the problem. Radiation is complicated and effects are stochastic so difficult to provide reliable stats on; however, it is absolutely toxic when ingested…

    what a mess we’ve made….


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  • So why would the steam indicate ‘no problem’? I do not understand…

    What happened to the cooling pumps?

    What happened to the power?

    What happened to the back up pumps and batteries?

    It seems to me that if any of these things were working, then there should be no need for ‘steam’ releases, correct?

    What a steam release means to me is a MELTDOWN, due to loss of all cooling water, and thus the reactor core gets hot enough to steam water and boil it off because none is coming in anymore to keep the pressure down and steam inside building.

    It is like a pressure cooker venting off, because the steam pressure builds up too high, so it has to release it..

    Eventually it runs out of water… then interesting things happen to the rods that are exposed to the air and not surrounded by water.

    Is this what is happening at this plant?

    It was certainly what happened at Fukushima… they all let off massive amounts of steam, AFTER THEY MELTED DOWN.


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    • lam335 lam335

      I don’t know if this is relevant to the steam build up today, but another article on this story concluded with this paragraph:

      “In an unrelated issue last April, the commission said it was conducting special inspections of backup water pumps at the Byron and Braidwood generating stations after the agency’s inspectors raised concerns about whether the pumps would be able to cool the reactors if the normal system wasn’t working. The plants’ operator, Exelon Corp., initially said the pumps would work but later concluded they wouldn’t.”
      http://my.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20120130/8b36ba6d-9a83-452e-b916-efee677f4829

      I’m not sure if the “backup water pumps” were involved today, or just the back-up generator powering the regular pumps. Anyway, the question remains: if the back-up generators kicked in immediately, why did so much steam build up so quickly? They have apparently been venting it for hours.


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    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      A release of steam does not automatically indicate a meltdown.


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  • Is anyone measuring radiation around this plant, ANYWHERE?


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