GE Hitachi: 35 U.S. reactors could fail during quake — Problem with control rods

Published: October 3rd, 2011 at 7:14 pm ET


Reactors could fail during an earthquake, maker says, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 30, 2011:

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy said 35 reactors it built for utilities from New York to Washington may not shut down properly during an earthquake. […]

GE Hitachi […] is recommending testing to determine what level of friction would prevent control rods from fully inserting into the reactor core during an earthquake […]

The issue is a “low probability event” that became known to the company several months before the March earthquake […] a spokesman for GE Hitachi in Wilmington, N.C., said in an e-mail. […]

[NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said] “There are still other changes to come in response to the issue,” he said. “I don’t know off-hand what level of seismic activity could pose a problem.” […]

Nuclear plants that may be affected by the control rod issue include:

  • Perry, OH
  • Oyster Creek, NJ
  • Clinton, IL
  • Dresden, IL
  • LaSalle, IL
  • Quad Cities, IL
  • Limerick, PA
  • Peach Bottom, PA
  • FitzPatrick, NY
  • Vermont Yankee, VT
  • Pilgrim, MA
  • Grand Gulf, MS
  • Browns Ferry, AL
  • River Bend, LA
  • Hope Creek, NJ
  • Nine Mile Point, NY
  • Fermi 2, MI
  • Brunswick, NC
  • Hatch, GA
  • Duane Arnold, IA
  • Cooper, NE
  • Monticello, MN
  • Columbia, WA
Published: October 3rd, 2011 at 7:14 pm ET


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  3. Nuclear reactors face double threat from quake and hurricane August 24, 2011
  4. North Anna: Officials unsure whether control rods fell into reactor core due to shaking or loss of power September 6, 2011
  5. Gov’t: Shutdown at U.S. nuclear plant after 10 control rods accidentally fall into reactor core — Caused by ‘smoldering’ event, Fire Brigade on scene — Incident of this type could lead to overheating, potentially resulting in ‘supercriticality’ — Official: No ‘immediate’ concern (VIDEO) December 7, 2015

49 comments to GE Hitachi: 35 U.S. reactors could fail during quake — Problem with control rods

  • ocifferdave

    35 reactors might not shutdown properly….how about all 100 or so US reactors not shutting down properly when this happens:

    • “became known to the company several months before the March earthquake” HORSESHIT !
      Need to come up with a quick fix before ground quiver shakes them as in Anna Quake ? I think it was that quake in Anna that disclosed the problem !

      Remember the steam for days !

    • Whoopie Whoopie

      Guess what I’m seeing all over Tweets right now??
      Wondering why still no radiation casualties at Fukushima – Prominent radio-epidemiologist explains wh… #fukushima

      Who’s with me!?!?
      Night all. Enough for 1 day. Everyday ends up EXHAUSTING. (old fart here)

    • pg

      Agree. EQ, grid failure, etc. People need to remember not to be come “deer in the headlights” but to stay focused and concentrated in one area. Removing the corrupt form office, big banks from government. There are a dozens ways to do this but after complete and the people regain control of their districts, shutting down nuke plants will be EASY. stay focused, dont be deer.

    • Erin

      End nuclear power – White House Petition – please sign!

      Dear friends,

      I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People, a
      new feature on, and ask for your support. Will you add your
      name to mine? If this petition gets 5,000 signatures by October 30, 2011,
      the White House will review it and respond!

      We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama
      Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets
      enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

      You can view and sign the petition here:

      Here’s some more information about this petition:

      End the use of nuclear energy in the United States.

      The best available science has taught us that radioactive substances are
      extremely hazardous to human health. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the
      ongoing crisis in Fukushima, as well as recent U.S. nuclear accidents can
      leave no doubt — nuclear energy is neither safe nor clean. Please end the
      use of nuclear energy, and use the funds currently invested in advancing
      nuclear power to support safer alternatives, such as wind and solar.

    Japan – 3 years old boy dies of hemolytic uremic syndrome in Gifu prefecture

    Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is a disorder that usually occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. Symptoms: HUS often begins with vomiting…
    Can be caused by ecoli However, the condition has also been linked to other gastrointestinal infections, including shigella and salmonella, as well as nongastrointestinal infections.
    29 Sep.,
    stomachache, diarrhea
    he went to clinic

    30 Sep.,
    vomit, stomachache and bloody stools
    he went to clinic again and hospitalized

    02 Oct.,
    onset of hemolytic uremic syndrome

    03 Oct.,
    he died of hemolytic uremic syndrome at PM
    *O157 was undetected from stools

    his classmates, 3 & 4 years old girls are in hospital
    O157 was detected from stools, they are not serious condition
    3 classmates have stomachache now
    the infection route is investigation by Gifu prefecture

  • China – Strontium radiation 29 times normal off coast due to Fukushima nuclear leakage
    machine translation –

    Nuclear radiation effects on the Western Pacific
    Posted: 2011/8/26 Reporters: Southern Chinese News

    Nuclear radiation effects on the Western Pacific

    State Oceanic Administration proposed to strengthen the seafood inspection
    (Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, August 25) – Correspondent 24 learned from the State Oceanic Administration, State Oceanic Administration of Japan Fukushima western Pacific Ocean east of the marine environmental radioactivity monitoring carried out by the second batch monitoring results show that the east and southeast of Japan, Fukushima the direction of the western Pacific Ocean has been significantly affected Fukushima nuclear leakage, monitoring of strontium in biological samples of marine waters -90 of radioactivity in biological samples along the coast of China the average background radiation 29 times.


    Monitoring sea squid (Bart squid) radioactive test results show that strontium -90 of radioactivity in biological samples along the coast of China the average background radiation 29 times.

    In addition, samples also detected in the Chinese coastal biological samples difficult to detect under normal circumstances, the silver-110mAnd cesium -134 .
    State Oceanic Administration said that in view of Fukushima, Japan, the east and southeast of the western Pacific Ocean has been significantly affected Fukushima nuclear leakage, we recommend that the relevant departments to strengthen the seafood from the waters of radioactive detection, to ensure that our public health and safety.

    • This was posted last month also when it arrived on the wire !
      Sad for the people in China, love their fish and seafoods !
      I sent this to Friends (heads-up) over there, people there are very worried !

    ~Latest article caught the attention of PISSIN’ ON THE ROSES~
    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

    North Kanto Plutonium Oxide Typhoon Rains? A Photo Comparison
    The first photo below taken from . It has been purported to potentially be Plutonium Dioxide.

    Plutonium Oxide is part of the MOX fuel which was located in Fukushima Unit 3. It is also formed from the exposure of Plutonium to moist air. One direct method of formation would be the rapid conversion (2 day half life) of Neptunium 239 into Plutonium 239. Large amounts of Neptunium 239 have been reported in Japan, and the potential signature of Neptunium 239 has been detected in the Saint Louis radioactive rainfall of September 14th.

    According to Los Alamos National Labs, Plutonium Oxide:

    “plutonium dioxide is normally olive green, samples can be various colors. It is generally believed that the color is a function of chemical purity, stoichiometry, particle size, and method of preparation, although the color resulting from a given preparation method is not always reproducible. ” .

    Typically the color is reported to be “yellow-brown”. Notice that the color and consistency of the substance from North Kanto Japan; it does bare a striking resemblance to the photos of known samples of Plutonium Dioxide provided by Los Alamos National Labs.

    North Kanto, Japan: Typhoon rain fallout.
    Click here to see the photo of the North Kanto Sample (the site does not allow hot linking)
    Plutonium Dioxide?

    Plutonium 239 Fallout Raining Down on North America; The Smoking Gun

    • Great analysis. The Heavy particles are here.

    • westcoastgirl westcoastgirl

      Although it looks like a scary report, I noticed that the jet stream pretty much passed over most of the pacific northwest…at least that time. I wonder if that is why my geiger counter readings are not that high.

      It rained today; I tested a napkin from the rain on my car (it had been sitting; I wasn’t driving it). It was within normal levels (0.33 mSV per hour-don’t know how to do the little u symbol)but still on the high side of normal…

      • westcoastgirl westcoastgirl

        By passed over I meant that it missed it, maybe that’s a better way of saying it…

        • Hey Westcoastgirl, May I suggest mc for micro. That funny micro symbol isn’t on a lot of computer keyboards. If you just use the m symbol that means milli, or thousandths. Micro is millionths. I’m up in Vancouver Canada. Where are you? Low readings on the coast is good news for me. My Geiger counter is lost in transit.

          • westcoastgirl westcoastgirl

            That’s nice to hear,I thought I was just missing something with the symbol. You’re right, mcSV is the correct way of putting it.

            I have found mostly low readings every where I’ve tested…the thing is that if nothing spectacular starts happening, I get impatient and lose interest, especially if it involves standing around outside for long periods of time. I have so much to do that I don’t have time to stand outside staring at a geiger counter for very long.

            I did thoroughly test a water filter recently, and I tested the wet paper towel pretty thoroughly, too. I want to get ahold of some car air filters soon, too. But so far, not too bad. Hope I’m not missing anything important…

  • Whoopie Whoopie

    POSTED HERE. Good to see you TG.
    Trolls are all over it. CaptD is off for 3 weeks.

  • Jebus Jebus

    Apparently PWR’s have issues with the ability to “scram” or drop the control rods in the event of an emergency…

    Most likely PWR LOCA?


    Consequences of a nozzle separation

    Cracks in CRDM nozzles have been axial or circumferential, so the ultimate incident is the extension of a circumferential crack sufficient to cause a break away of a CRDM.

    A CRDM is subject to the vessel pressure so that the control rods can drop by gravity. There has to be a space around the armature so that coolant can be displaced when a rod is lifted. The sequence of events following a break away at full power are complex, but can perhaps be imagined..

    A broken away CRDM casing would leave the break at great speed, propelled by the coolant issuing from it. It would most likely damage the neighbouring CRDMs and especially their electrical connections, preventing them from tripping.

    The escaping coolant transversely crossing the top of the fuel pack through to the break would hinder the dropping of some of the suspended control rod assemblies.

    The interstices between the fuel rods would be instantly filled with a mixture of water and flash steam leading to can cladding ballooning and a fuel meltdown at somewhat less than full power.

    The situation is somewhat alleviated by the reduced moderation effect of the water/steam mix which would reduce the fission to something less than full power.

    The remedy for the failure to drop the control rods is to inject a boric acid solution into the cold leg of the reactor. Although the upward escaping coolant might act as propellant of the boric acid solution through the cores, its progress would be impeded by the swelling fuel rod cladding.

    Hydrogen would leave the break with the steam/water mix and might explode under the cover of the CRDMs, rupturing the cover and damaging the CRDMs within it, but might explode in the containment. The quantity of hydrogen would be greater than that produced from an unmanaged residual fission and heat, which led to such damage at Fukushima.


    • Lacsap Lacsap

      “Apparently PWR’s have issues with the ability to “scram” or drop the control rods in the event of an emergency…”

      Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has BWR reactors in which fuel rods are pushed upwards there is no dropping by gravity. Also this means that there are holes for the rods under the vessel in which melted fuel (as has happended) can escape

  • Jebus Jebus

    Here is the notice from GEH to NRC that prompted this topic….

    Subject: Part 21 Reportable Condition Notification:
    Failure to Include Seismic Input in Channel-Control Blade Interference Customer Guidance

  • Now Calm Down Folks

    Think Positive OK.

    …Think about how many Zombie Movies we could make…and no makeup needed for the actors!

    red red wine

    M5.3 – Bonin Islands, Japan region – 2011 October 04 01:37:28 UTC‎
    Time Magnitude Location
    1 hour ago 5.3 Bonin Islands, Japan region Map

  • Jebus Jebus

    More control rod roulette…

    Control Rod Drive Mechanism/Rod Position Indication System Cable and Connector Upgrades

    As the majority of plants approach the first or second decade of commercial operation, normal age degradation of materials and support components can lead to functional problems elevating the cost of continued operation and increasing the probability and length of planned and/or unscheduled outage time.
    Numerous plants have reported and are currently experiencing erratic rod position signals directly attributable to analog and digital rod position indication (ARPI and DRPI) system cable and connector degradation. This has led to false rod deviation alarms and increased calibration time. Several utilities have also indicated instances of recessed contacts, bent (oval-shaped) coupling units and completely worn key ways.
    Control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) cable and connector difficulties have also been cited in causing delays during plant start-up and have forced unscheduled down-time.
    Westinghouse offers unique customer-specific cable and connector upgrades and installation services that will enhance the reliability of the ARPI/DRPI/CRDM systems, eliminate coupling difficulties associated with original equipment connectors, and provide experienced field service personnel during advisory evaluations and installation.

  • bmurr bmurr–13821136/
    has anyone seen this report? they say they a spraying water over reactor 3 core via sprayers. is reactor 3 even there anymore? If the cores melted out, doesn’t that mean all the water is just washing out the bottom of the pressure vessel? this report is confusing if true.

    • Jebus Jebus

      #3’s core did not melt out, it flew out the top like the wicked witch of the east’s monkeys. The control rods come up through holes in the bottom on a good day. After watching the explosion of #3, what’s left is a collander with some fuel assemblies at the bottom.
      Yes, water is flushing through and carring massive amounts of radionuclides with it to points unknown…

  • Jebus Jebus

    Do ya get the picture that control rods are kinda important in any nuclear BWR or PWR reactor?

    Control of the control rods is the single most important issue in the day to day operations of any BWR or PWR nuclear power plant.

    Murphy, what can go wrong will…

    Since the beginning of the Mark 1 reactor to date, the control rod control issue has been studied.

    Here is just 4 years of issues studied on one type of reactor and one type of control mechanism.

    Go here…

    Aging Assessment of the
    Westinghouse PWR Control Rod
    Drive System

    Scroll down to page 165

    January 1984 – December 1988

    Table B.1 Cable/connector LERs
    Table B.2 Human error LERs
    Table B.3 Power and logic cabinet LERs
    Table B.4 CRDM LERs
    Table B.5 LERs with failure cause not delineated
    Table B.6 Rod position indication LERs

    Scroll down and look at all of the events in just those four years to all those plant’s control rod control mechanisms.

    Hello… remember murphy… he’s always right around the corner… even today…

    • Bobby1

      The radioactive silver that was detected a while ago comes from melted control rods. Murphy and his law, yep.

    • bmurr bmurr

      the report is nonsense then. it suggested the cooling systems are operational, and that water is being circulated. this is really their report? is the emperor wearing cloths???

      • Jebus Jebus

        Even in the other reactors, if they have not melted down, err.. out, err through, whatever, then this page from fairewinds will show how the highly radioactive water is leaking out and about…

        Read on…

        How are high levels of radioactive water getting out of the Fukushima 1, 2, and 3 Containment Buildings?

        Fairewinds believes that even if the nuclear reactors have not melted down, radioactively contaminated water is leaking out of the reactors and containment buildings.

        Boiling Water Reactors (BWR’s), like Fukushima, have dozens of holes in the bottom of the nuclear reactor because BWR control rods enter the reactor from the bottom, unlike Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR’s) where the control rods enter from the top…..

    • catweazel

      additionally in Chernobyl there was something special on the rods, when they were reinserted to stop the catastrophe the engineers missed one construction fault of the machinery: controlrods in chernobyl had radioactive dust on them as they were in direct contact with the fuel, not as in fuku. due to that “dustfilm” when inserted the first reaction of core is more fission for a few seconds, so the rods have to be inserted slowly. in chernobyl they were in panic and inserted the rods to stop reaction to fast and to far, by doing so giving the system the final slap to explosion.

  • Ron

    Question for the experts: Would a Faraday Cage, placed around a nuke plant, stop radioactive emissions?

    I suspect the answer is no, otherwise they’d be doing that already.

    • Jebus Jebus

      A faraday cage will only stop or displace electromagnetic radiation or the field effects thereof…

      • WindorSolarPlease

        Hi Jebus

        This all sounds like what most of us think: There’s no fix, game over.
        Would you say that sums it up?

        • bmurr bmurr

          if there was a fix, it would have require the sacrifice of a large number of human lives, early in the event. this is a cultural condition that prevents western countries from dealing with situations. ” when there is no clear solution,do nothing ” – American politics rule book.
          the Russians understood that the sacrifice of few to save many was needed. this is a tragic decision to be made, the they averted a much worse situation, one that is now being realized in Japan. welcome to the world of every man for himself, greed, and radio active food.

  • Darth

    No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make “safe” and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man. The idea that a civilization could sustain itself on the basis of such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity. It means conducting the economic affairs of man as if people really did not matter at all. E.F. Schumacher

  • Buffalojam

    Darth – This Schumacher quote was posted here a few months ago and and,for me, packs quite a wallop. I think it would be a good idea to include it on any petition or with any communication with decision makers contemplating continuing or expanding nuclear power.

  • catweazel

    my guess: it is a little bigger: with nuke warheads to be cleaned every 90 days to remove Pu-240 and with no place on earth to store that Pu my guess is: someone thought: lets sell it as MOX and by doing so burn it in reactors. so as long as there are nuke warheads they have to get rid of Pu 240. So they will not stop nukes because they dont know where else to store the “litter” Pu-240

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    They won’t stop nukes to do weapons manufacturing….gotta have those weapons.
    It’s insanity….
    But then… so is trying to have a revolution…without discussing they are trying to do at OWS.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    PS..OT..Last night..a moderator of the OWS liveblog..posted this..
    “No talk about candidates..and that includes past and future presidents..”
    Many people don’t know what the Federal Reserve,etc is..they simply don’t know what we are talking about…
    Some subjects are deemed the OWS crowd….lol…us.
    We have such a long way to go….
    We might have to have a revolution…against the Revolution…if it continues to be so closed minded…
    Folks get on there are spewing about evolution.. but they have no badly we need it.

  • StillJill StillJill

    I think Whoopie and others are right,…since TPTB only care about money,….that’s their Achilles heel! Yesterday down in Chico, Ca. I got another surprise. The city was a ghost town! Only two patients at the clinic an hour,…they were the healthier ones. No cars hardly at any restaurants, stores,…car lots going out of business,…trying to get someone to lease their lots,…it was surreal! Where are all the people?