Nuclear Engineer: Small leaks in pipes carrying reactor water caused radioactivity in steam releases from Illinois nuke plant

Published: January 31st, 2012 at 5:23 pm ET


Title: Q&A: Illinois nuclear plant loses power. What got vented into the air?
Source: Christian Science Monitor
Date: Jan 31, 2012

[…] During the shutdown, the plant vented steam containing trace amounts of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. But the release represented no health threat, federal and plant officials told the Associated Press. […]

Where did the tritium come from?

It’s a byproduct of the nuclear reactions that take place in the plant’s reactors and boron, used in a reactor’s coolant to help control the reactor’s chain reactions. It found its way into the vented steam at Byron because the piping that carried the reactor water through the steam generator has some small leaks, [David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer tracking nuclear-safety issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists] says. […]

Read the report here

Published: January 31st, 2012 at 5:23 pm ET


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  3. UPDATED: Emergency shutdown at Illinois reactor — Smoke was actually steam containing radioactive material — Workers evacuated — Releases will continue throughout day (PHOTO) January 30, 2012
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18 comments to Nuclear Engineer: Small leaks in pipes carrying reactor water caused radioactivity in steam releases from Illinois nuke plant

  • or-well

    But..don’t small leaks turn into bigger leaks over time?
    Don’t leaks indicate flaws in connections, corrosion and/or failures of material integrity?
    Isn’t there a lot of critical plumbing in this old pressurised water reactor?
    Isn’t it all about the plumbing?
    What shape is it in?
    Is this reactor getting ready to blow chunks?
    Total shutdown strikes me as appropriate for so many reasons, quite apart from the power supply issue.

    • Room101 Room101

      Hello my friend. Glad to see you are well. I’ve been reading your poetry the last couple of days, and you are amazing.

      • or-well

        Hello Room101. Just trying to stay…intact, if not whole…I saw the news today, oh, boy…

        Jen stuns in her little black dress!
        Worldwide there’s a nuclear mess!
        The grimiest spots in your home!
        There’s plutonium seeking your bones!
        Man power washes inside of his car!
        When there’s a leak, they raise the bar!
        Guess which Celeb’s now going alone?
        Nuke-fail will drive you from home!

        and so on. Hugs.

  • Room101 Room101

    Leaks. Hmmmm. Well, you heard it here first, folks. I wonder sometimes if these guys really listen to themselves. They’re just so caught up in themselves, and their lives, and their very stressful nuclear jobs, to really understand and contemplate the risk of this filth they handle and deal with every day.

    I just get this feeling that they are “used to it.” You know, theimmense risk, the hazards, the volatility, the apocalyptic implications of losing control of their precious reaction (as if they ever really had control.) They are used to it like the person with the pneumatic hammer which kills the cattle in the slaughterhouse. Or an emergency surgeon in the ER. They are used to tolerating some spillage here and there, some hush-hush secret burial of toxic death somewhere on the property (the dirty little secret of almost every industry big and small,) keeping the voices low and the statements short so as not to cause any alarm about the fallibility of their “containment.”

    It sickens me that we have so little say about what is right next door to us–that the “accepted levels” of filth are adjustable for any “accident.”

  • norbu norbu

    72 miles from Fukushima

  • byron byron

    Joined the Enenews family back in very early April (or maybe last week of March) when the news blackout started. Found as a result of a posting under twitter @fukushima. At this point the only thing I can think that is if does go bad at least people will be able to pronounce and spell my name correctly. ouch, had no idea there was a nuke filth dispenser named after me. 🙁

  • Nigwil

    Mmm… leaks in the steam generator. Rate of leak proportional to size of holes, number of holes and pressure differential.

    When venting from the secondary circuit pressure will probably be lower than normal operation, which means pressure drop across the leak will be greater which means leak rate will be greater.

    It would be interesting to know what the make-up water flow rate is into the primary reactor cooling circuit, and how it’s changed over time. They know that data already as they have to keep the treated deionized water tank topped up to supply the makeup pumps.

    Give them a ring, I’m sure they will be happy to tell you the latest flow rates of makeup to the primary cooling circuit.

  • lam335 lam335

    The tritium in the steam was “expected,” but it was the result of “leaks” in the piping. So in other words, they’ve known the piping leaks, since they were expecting to find tritium in the steam.

  • jec jec

    What a secure feeling for my family living NINE miles away from one nuclear plant and a few more miles to a second nuclear plant. But not to worry–the water district does not test for radioactive products..because the US government agencies do–so we are SAFE! When reading in the small print of public utility reports..the “30 days to notify” of water problems..has become YEARS! Welcome to ‘safe’ nuclear energy.What you don’t know can kill you.

    • Soften and RO your water. No brainer, unless you are really poor, then you will be poisoned. hate to be harsh, but this is reality. You need to educate yourself, and then try to convince them it is worth the effort. They may laugh at you, be ready for that too.

      Sorry, harsh world, esp now

  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    Over half of US nuke plants are over 30 years old.
    On a practical level, how many here are driving a 1981 or older car? And if you are, it is probably a vintage vehicle and only going to car shows or an occasional trip to town. If you were driving from NY to LA, you would probably feel more secure in a newer vehicle. And if your older vehicle fails you, worst case scenario, it will kill you and maybe the driver of another vehicle that you hit.
    If these decrepit old nuclear clunkers “crash”, the planet is the limit for collateral damage.
    Simply put, we are producing dangerous electricity on ELE “borrowed time” machines.
    Shut them all down yesterday!
    And don’t build any new ones.

  • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

    Posting this in each Illinois thread so it does not get missed. And everyone is aware of the true dangers of Tritium.

    “Radiological research has found a correlation between tritium and cumulative genetic injury. (21) There was found in successive generations a reduction in relative brain weight, reduction in litter size, and increased reabsorption of embryos. Correlations have been found in epidemiological research between tritium and Down’s’ Syndrome. Associations have also been found between low-level radiation and Down’s Syndrome.”

    “Tritium is essential to the construction of boosted-fission nuclear weapons. A boosted weapon contains a mixture of deuterium and tritium, the gases being heated and compressed by the detonation of a plutonium or uranium device. The D-T mixture is heated to a temperature and pressure such that thermonuclear fusion occurs. This process releases a flood of 14 MeV neutrons which cause additional fissions in the device, greatly increasing its efficiency.”

    NASA KNOWS how long Tritium lasts…

    Radioactive tritium became a perfect marker for tracking ocean water §. Scientists sampling North Atlantic water found that tritium released into the atmosphere before the 1962 nuclear test ban treaty, mixed downward by 1973. By 1980, the same tritium had moved into deep areas off Florida. The water had taken about 20 years to travel 3000 miles (4800 km) through the sea at an average speed of less than half a mile a day, about half the speed of a snail §.

  • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

    PLEASE keep commenting on this thread so that it is viewed instead of the most recent disinformation article. This at least has some truth in it.