Tennessee nuke plant: After tornadoes, water in reactor “boiled” low enough to trigger shutdown alarm — Public not told of problems

Published: July 14th, 2011 at 6:35 pm ET
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TVA defends Browns Ferry after reports of equipment, operator failure, Times Free Press, July 14th, 2011:

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant had far more problems during recent tornadoes than TVA told the public after winds took down power lines and the plant went into automatic shutdown.

Exhibit A:

[D]ocuments the [Tennessee Valley Authority] is required to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission show reactor operators became distracted while manually operating cooling water flow to the Unit 1 reactor and water began boiling off faster than it was being replaced. [...]

Browns Ferry ran on diesel generators’ power for five days after the shutdown. [...]

When one of the generators failed at Browns Ferry, there was a temporary loss of shutdown cooling for one reactor for about 47 minutes, but the water level in the reactor never got near the boiling point, officials said. [...]

The water in the reactor boiled low enough to trigger another shutdown alarm in the control room, but [TVA nuclear spokesman Ray Golden] said boiling water still covered the reactor fuel.

There were other problems after the tornadoes:

A valve failed, a diesel-driven fire pump failed, the diesel-driven generator for the security station failed, the warning sirens were lost, power to the chemical lab was lost, and an emergency diesel generator keeping cool water flowing to one of three reactors shut down because of voltage fluctuations caused by a fluid leak after a brass fitting broke.

Beware phrases like ‘the equipment worked as designed’ and ‘the plant was safely shut down and cooled down’. From TVA nuclear spokesman Ray Golden: 

“I don’t think anywhere we use terms like ‘flawless’ or ‘perfect.’ We did use terms like ‘the equipment worked as designed’ and ‘the plant was safely shut down and cooled down.’”

h/t Whoopie via Xdrfox

Published: July 14th, 2011 at 6:35 pm ET
By

25 comments

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