Gundersen on TV: Biggest problem I see is Oyster Creek plant near Jersey Shore — No way to cool spent fuel pool while power is out — All nuclear fuel is in pool, none in reactor (VIDEO)

Published: October 29th, 2012 at 12:52 pm ET
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>>> Follow-up to: Top Hurricane Expert: Sandy getting worse, way beyond anything we imagined -- Jersey Shore to be 'obliterated' -- A stunningly spectacular event in worst way (VIDEO) <<<

Title: Nuclear Plants from Virginia to Vermont Could Be Impacted from Massive Hurricane Sandy
Source: Democracy Now
Date: Oct. 29, 2012

Nuclear Expert Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education

  • The biggest problem, as I see it right now, is the Oyster Creek plant
  • Oyster Creek is the same design design, but even older, than Fukushima Daiichi unit 1
  • It’s in a refueling outage, that means that all the nuclear fuel is not in the nuclear reactor, but it’s over in the spent fuel pool
  • There’s no backup power for the spent fuel pools
  • If Oyster Creek were to lose its offsite power, and frankly that’s really likely, there would be no way cool that nuclear fuel that’s in the fuel pool until they get the power reestablished
  • The most important lesson we can take out of Fukushima Daiichi and climate change, and especially with Hurricane Sandy, is that we can’t expect to cool these fueling pools

Watch the broadcast here

Published: October 29th, 2012 at 12:52 pm ET
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31 comments

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31 comments to Gundersen on TV: Biggest problem I see is Oyster Creek plant near Jersey Shore — No way to cool spent fuel pool while power is out — All nuclear fuel is in pool, none in reactor (VIDEO)

  • lam335 lam335

    Exelon claims:

    "Oyster Creek was designed to withstand severe storm conditions plus significant margin, including floods and extremely high winds. Storm preparedness plans are continuously reviewed and modifications are made based on lessons learned from industry events."

    http://www.4-traders.com/EXELON-CORPORATION-13963/news/Exelon-Corporation-Oyster-Creek-Prepared-for-Hurricane-Sandy-15441936/

    I'd like to know what modifications, if any, have been made as a result of "lessons learned" from Fukushima.

    Evidently they didn't learn from the SFP fires that dry casks are a better idea (and worth the cost in the log run).


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    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      "…I'd like to know what modifications, if any, have been made as a result of "lessons learned" from Fukushima…"

      1. Contain all information, good or bad

      2. Share 'bad' information selectively within the 'Federal Family'

      3. Censor anything that could possibly get to the public and cause panic. You *know* how jittery the common meat-units get about a little harmless ionizing radiation. Besides, release accidents are impossbile.


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  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    "There’s no backup power for the spent fuel pools."
    Mom Nature's immune system is kickin in world wide. She ain't gonna stand for this shit no longer! Human industry is the cancer, and Mom's got the cure.


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  • guezilla

    Unloading the whole reactor core is not the normal procedure, it was done in Fukushima unit 4 for shroud replacement, ie. maintenance to the reactor itself. Apparently this practice is becoming more commonplace though, possibly as the reactors age so there's need to inspect and perform maintenance that requires having all the nuclear fuel out.
    I don't actually know enough to know which is preferable, to have the fuel in the reactor or in the spent fuel pool. If the hot core isn't in the spent fuel pool, then the spent fuel pool can last weeks without electricity, if the hot core is in the spent fuel pool then it's down to days – and this all to n:th power if there is actual loss of coolant incident on the irradiated fuel pool. So there is a strong argument for leaving or returning the hot core into the reactor where it's better physically protected and separated from the cooler fuel. But the cooling requirements in-reactor are more stringent, it's not just a passive pool where they're sitting.
    The hurricane is yet to make landfall, but townships on both sides of Oyster Creek have reported thousands of people (tens of percents) without power, so power cuts are a given, with utilities estimating restoring power can take over a week. Of course, sites will be prioritized, and as soon as the storm clears generators can be brought in by roads or air if that isn't possible. Loss of coolant from the pool due to physical damage, a possibility, is the catastrophic failure…


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  • Oyster Creek… Older than Fukushima!
    (We know that kind of containment CAN breach.)

    No Backup power for Spent Fuel Pools.
    (unbelievable, but true)

    I'm glad our safety is your primary concern.
    Thanks Nuclear Industry. Thanks NRC.
    (sarcasm) ;)


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  • moonshellblue moonshellblue

    They're telling us not to worry about TMI , Peach Bottom, etc as they have mobilized emergency teams to all nuclear plants and are ready. Time will tell


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  • Our blindspots will be exposed, it's just a matter of when. The expectation of infinite, consistent electricity in an increasingly chaotic world of waning energy production is foolish. Is this the moment where Mother Nature suggests that the emperor has no clothes?

    http://prosperouswaydown.com/taboo-topics-nuclear-waste/


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  • lam335 lam335

    If there is no fuel in the reactor itself (and thus no need to cool the reactor itself), why couldn't the diesel generators that would normally be used as a backup for the reactors instead be used to back up the SFP's cooling system?


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  • patb2009

    i imagine if Oyster Creek is a GE BWR, perhaps you could leave the refueling gates open between the rac and the SFP and if you monitor the water levels, you can pump from the rac feedwater systems through to the SFP.

    avoid overflow and it will work.

    now as for humidity, yo may have to open the blow out panels.

    it's leak some radiation versus losing the whole smash.


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  • many moons

    The plant manager must have known about the oncoming storm for days and he must have known where his spent fuel was and what it needed to be maintained…why could someone have set up a generator before the shit hit the fan instead of the cliff hanging scramble they are planning on???

    If you look at the costs of a generator and the costs of the possible disaster of melted fuel rods it should be clear even to the most lame brained scientist or capitalist what should have been done.

    Humans sure do prefer to learn the hard way.


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  • arclight arclight

    repost
    UPDATE- Salem and Hope Creek reactors likely to shut -Reactors in Pennsylvania and Maryland could shut

    PJM is the biggest power grid in the United States serving
    more than 60 million people in 13 U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest
    states and the District of Columbia

    http://nuclear-news.net/2012/10/29/update-pseg-salem-and-hope-creek-reactors-likely-to-shut-reactors-in-pennsylvania-and-maryland-could-shut/


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  • Delaware Bay as a funnel? High tide tonight Oct. 29 High 11:28 PM +5.9 Hope Creek and Salem NPPs at head of bay, with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC within 50-100 miles . . . .


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    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Well, if any of that +5.9 tide has waves, then its probably beyond the design basis of the plant. You can't blame the designers in this case – its impossible to design for a combination of unlikely events like high tide *and* big waves. Toss in a station black-out and that's like a one in ten-bajillion chance. Who could possibly design on that basis?

      [yes, its sarcasm...]


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  • Unbelievable they don't have back up power for the spent fuel pool. Apparently the spent fuel in the pool is more in the states. So perhaps an older design never accounted for spent fuel pools to be more then a temporary storage so way back then no back up power required. And it looks like they just never updated to todays reality that the only modification to these pools has been the addition of racks to store way more fuel then originally intended for way longer. But still no back up generator as it could never happen that a natural disaster would occur when hot fuel is sitting in the overcrowded storage tank. So funny they are calling it a frankenstorm. Which expert predicted this? They sure do have selective hearing when it comes to listening to experts.


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  • captndano captndano

    oh, oh. The NJ Oyster Creek plant is a GE Mark 1 design.


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    • Mack Mack

      "Especially worrisome are several GE Mark 1 reactors that share the same design flaws as the three GE-built reactors that lost power, suffered meltdowns and exploded in Fukushima, Japan. The eight Fukushima-style reactors located in Sandy’s path are: Fitzpatrick (New York), Hope Creek (New Jersey), Nine Mile Point 1 (New York), Oyster Creek (New Jersey), Peach Bottom 1 & 2 (Pennsylvania), Pilgrim (Massachusetts), and Vermont Yankee (Vermont)."

      "Frankenstorms and the Fukushima Factor"
      http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/29-2


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  • voltscommissar

    The risk of transmission grids collapsing depends on two main factors:

    1. wind speed already about 100mph near storm centre.

    2. Freezing rain wherever the cold air mass interacts with Sandy.

    Reports have been coming in of a sudden drop in temperature even on the coast near Atlantic City, so the big problem IMO will be further inland when iced-up power conductors get so heavy that transmission line towers start collapsing: these take so long to repair in ice and snow that the SFPs do have time to seriously overheat. The failure of NRC to MANDATE failsafe cooling of SFPs is verging on the criminal. Criminally insane!!

    ***TERROR ALERT***: the nukes and their regulators are tantamount to a massive terrorist threat to US citizens


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  • amberlight amberlight

    MSM shills have the gall to call this the largest storm on record… er, since 1988, that is. Apart from thriving on fearmongering and hysteria, the reason they are trying to convince everyone that nothing like this has ever occurred is to let the nuclear industry off the hook.

    The question is: Since the history of hurricanes, ice storms and nor'easters on the eastern seaboard makes it obvious that extreme weather conditions occur with alarming frequency, how could the NRC rubberstamp the building of dozens of nuclear plants in this region? Well, anywhere for that matter, but especially not on earthquake faults a la west coast or in coastal areas that get battered by frequent storm surges and flooding. Must be the same what-me-worry? thinking that approves of relicensing decaying facilities without requiring upgrades.


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  • Hogweed

    http://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2012/10/29/nrc-continues-to-monitor-sandy-including-alert-at-oyster-creek-plant/

    The NRC continues to monitor impacts of Sandy on nuclear power plants in the Northeastern U.S., including an <b>Alert declared at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey</b>. The plant, currently in a regularly scheduled outage, declared the Alert at approximately 8:45 p.m. EDT due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure.

    An Alert is the second lowest of four NRC action levels. The Alert was preceded by an Unusual Event, declared at approximately 7 p.m., EDT, when the water first reached a minimum high water level criteria. Water level is rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge. It is anticipated water levels will begin to abate within the next several hours.


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  • kalidances

    @Fred I believe that such catastrophes seem to have interesting timing when it comes to our government establishing "emergency funding" (that no one will ever track later) and "immediate emergency" (martial/curfew/internet)laws meant to keep people indoors and away from important news issues-especially during one of the most corrupt presidential elections in the history of America.

    If that doesn't work they can toss the Fox, TLC, NPR or Reality TV channels at people to keep them in line. ESPN works too :)


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