NUCLEAR TORNADOES THREATEN TENNESSEE VALLEY
One in three Americans lives within a 50 mile danger zone of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes. As global warming increases, these events will become ever more serious.
A Category EF-5 tornado barely missed hitting the TVA Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in north Alabama on April 27, 2011, and did take out power lines to its three Fukushima-style reactors. If there had been a direct hit on this 1970's plant (located 28 miles from Huntsville's city-center), we could have had our own Fukushima with nearly 1 million residents within the 50 mile zone. More than 3 million pounds of so-called 'spent' fuel is stored in cooling pools there, with only a warehouse style sheet-metal roof protecting it. ''Spent' fuel is much more enriched and radioactive than the uranium in the reactor cores, and the structures above these raised cooling pools could not protect us if there were a direct hit from such a tornado (or an aircraft or missile).
“Our spent fuel pools in the reactors like the one in Japan are almost filled to the brim, and the risk from the spent fuel pools — either from an accident or from an act of malice — are about as high as you could possibly make them,” said renowned expert David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
After the rash of tornadoes on April 27, 2011, TVA informed the media that the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant emergency systems “performed as they were designed to do“ – thereby misinforming the public. As a matter of fact, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant did not perform as designed, according to required NRC Reports for Emergency Event No. 46793 (reported on April 28 & May 3), and Events No. 46801 and 46805. Here is a summary of what went wrong:
1. On April 27, only 12 of 100 required off-site emergency sirens actually worked.
2. On April 27, two of eight Emergency Backup Diesel Generators were inoperable (EDGs A and 3 "B"), and a third (EDG "C") had to be shutdown on April 28 – that means 37% of the critically needed backup power failed. If the 161 KV Athens incoming power line had not survived the tornadoes, the inoperable generators supplying cooling power for the reactors and 'spent' fuel cooling pools could have become a serious issue.
3. On April 27, the Unit 3 "B" Main Steam Isolation Valve unexpectedly indicated "intermediate" – which means there was an electronic indicator problem or it was an actual emergency cooling system valve malfunction (cited recently by the NRC with a “red finding”. (see CBS News article).
4. On April 28, an electrical part failure resulted in a loss of Shutdown Cooling on Reactor Unit #1. Power was restored after 47 minutes.
5. On May 2, Reactor Unit #1 "received an 'A' Emergency Generator output breaker trip for unknown reasons," resulting in a half-SCRAM and loss of Shutdown Cooling. Power was restored 57 minutes after the breaker trip.
Raised 'spent' fuel pool at Browns Ferry, holds much more radioactivity than the reactor - but has no overhead containment.
What if that EF-5 tornado had made a direct hit on a spent fuel cooling pool at Browns Ferry, ripping off the sheet metal roof and sucking cooling pool water into the tornado, then tossing that radioactive brew into our neighborhoods? What if all power had been lost or a cooling pool had been damaged, causing a leak and possible meltdown? What if flying objects from the tornado flew into a pool, damaging the radioactive fuel rods? Welcome to Fukushima in the Tennessee Valley.
These are reasonable possibilities. The map above shows how six reactors in this valley, holding over 7 million pounds of radioactive fuel rods in cooling pools, are in the direct path of a tornado corridor. Anyone living here, knows tornados return along the same pathways.The NRC should require overhead containment of all cooling pools, not just the sides and bottoms. The pools contain more radioactive poisons than the reactor cores, and should have at least the same level of secure containment. Tornadoes and airplanes are overhead safety threats.
For a good short article explaining the dangers of spent fuel pools in America, read "US Stores Spent Nuclear Fuel Rods at 4 Times Pool Capacity" by Rady Ananda, ThePeoplesVoice.org, March 26, 2011.
For an excellent interview with renowned expert Bob Alvaraz of the Institute of Policy Studies see "US Spent Nuclear Fuel Largest Concentration of Radioactivity on Planet" by Daphne Wysham at The Real News. Alvarez explains how Congress has cut funds for the NRC and forced an NRC dependency on the industry self-regulating itself.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Congress in 2005 commissioned a study on "The Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage" (see right column to read part or all of the study). The last paragraph of recommendations in the study is worthy of note:
The committee also believes that the public is an important audience for the work being carried out to assess
and mitigate vulnerabilities of spent fuel storage facilities. While it would be inappropriate to share all information
publicly, more constructive interaction with the public and independent analysts could improve the work being
carried out and also increase public confidence in Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry decisions and
actions to reduce the vulnerability of spent fuel storage to terrorist threats.
Also, see the MSNBC interactive map of populations near nuclear plants here:
NUCLEAR REACTORS THREATEN OUR WATER SUPPLY
All reactors must be located next to large bodies of water to create steam to power the turbines, and more critically, to continuously cool the fuel rods in the reactor core and cooling pools to prevent meltdown. Each reactor at Bellefonte will withdraw about 24 million gallons of water from the Tennessee River daily, returning only one third (some radioactive and most very hot) to the river. This means about 16 million gallons will leave the river every day (per reactor) and will be converted into thermal plumes called "thermal discharge". As global warming and droughts progress, withdrawal of this water resource further stresses the river and leaves us with much less water.
The Huffington Post Sept. 30, 2009 article, "Boxer-Kerry Climate Bill Greenwashes Nuclear Power", reminds us of the BBB's response to the Nuclear Energy Institutes propaganda campaign begun over a decade ago, "the Better Business Bureau'''s (BBB) National Advertising Division found that the Nuclear Energy Institute's [NEI] ads falsely claimed that nuclear reactors make power without polluting the air and water or damaging the environment. The BBB said, ''The nuclear industry should stop calling itself 'environmentally clean' and should stop saying it makes power 'without polluting the environment.' The director of the division said such claims were ''unsupportable''." The decision by the BBB concluded that nuclear plants cause thermal water pollution , that production of nuclear fuel causes air pollution, and that nuclear waste poses a treat to public health and safety.
Jim Riccio, "Boxer-Kerry Climate Bill Greenwashes Nuclear Power", http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-kessler/boxerkerry-climate-bill-g_b_304633.html
30,000 YEAR RADIOACTIVE WASTE
100 tons of radioactive uranium pellets are placed in the core of a 1000 megawatt nuclear reactor for its operation, producing steam to drive turbines for electricity. The amount of long–life radioactive material in a 1000 megawatt nuclear plant reactor is equivalent to the explosion of 1000 Hiroshima sized bombs. (Reference: Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer by Helen Caldicott, founder Physicians for Social Responsibility, New Press, New York, 2006, pg 53-54)
Radioactive '''spent'' fuel (nuclear waste) is dangerous and remains radioactive for thousands of years. Exposure to any unshielded radioactive ''spent' fuel could result in instant death. More reactors mean more radioactive waste on-site on the Tennessee River, 20-30 metric tons per reactor per year of operation.
According to Pam Sohn's Chattanooga Times Free Press March 2010 article, "Nuclear Waste Piling Up in Region", "Three nuclear power plants along the Tennessee River near Chattanooga are storing 3,013 metric tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste." Sara Barczak, program director for high risk energy choices at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), is quoted as saying, "These were sites that were evaluated in the 1970s and 1980s to be homes for nuclear power plants for about 40 years. They were never intended to store what is basically the most toxic waste known to man."
In layman's terms, the 3,013 metric tons of nuclear waste already stored upriver along the Tennessee River near Chattanooga is 6,643,528 pounds of highly radioactive waste. This quantity was for early 2010 and is increasing rapidly.
After only 18 months of service, delivering just 1% of their radioactive energy as fuel and 99% as radioactive nuclear waste, these so called '''spent' fuel rods from the reactors are stored in circulating cooling pools for 5 years, so that they can cool down enough to be stored in dry casks. The NRC and the National Academies of Science have recommended fuel rods be moved into dry cask storage after 5 years (see NAS 2006 report in right margin), but the TVA has only moved about 15% in over 30 years. Instead, they have just been cramming the rods into overcrowded pools. The NRC has not regulated this serious danger.
The Chattanooga article goes on to say, "Terry Johnson and Ray Golden, spokesmen for TVA's nuclear program, said the spent fuel rods in pool storage are closely monitored and removed to dry cask storage as they cool." Another example of nuclear industry mendacity.
Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller (September 4, 2001-Present) calls nuclear power plants "target rich and vulnerable."
We still do not have a safe place to store this waste (since Yucca Mountain was discontinued), so right now it is piling up next to reactors all over our country. Even if the U.S. decides on and builds an extremely expensive permanent storage site for the radioactive waste, getting it there would require trucks or trains loaded with radioactive waste traveling through major cities across the United States. One train derailment could place thousands of lives at risk. One terrorist attack on such a transport could kill millions.
France is the biggest user of nuclear power in the world (per capita), with 59 reactors to our 104 and it also has not found a way to deal with nuclear waste. Even the newest reactors in France have proven to be unsafe – in the summer of 2008, radioactive uranium leaked from a French power plant into nearby water supplies and the government had to shut down drinking well water, swimming and fishing in and around two French rivers. The consequences of the French leak will be slow and irreversible. It seems incredible that the U.S. has suddenly decided to follow the nuclear direction of France, rather than the proven technological expertise of Germany – whose government has resolved to completely phase out nuclear power by 2022 and is rapidly moving toward 100% renewable energy. See "Germany Launches Its Transition of All Renewables."
Nuclear plants create massive amounts of extremely dangerous radioactive waste, some potentially leaching into the environment. These radionuclide wastes require storage until no longer radioactive (officially estimated at 30,000 years, although plutonium is toxic for 240,000 years). Just think of what can happen in human history in a thousand years. Most spent fuel storage is in short-term cooling pools, some is in dry containers designed to last 60-100 years. At every stage of the nuclear cycle, there is potential for harmful environmental and human impact.
WHY FUKUSHIMA CAN HAPPEN HERE
The C-10 Foundation sponsored this forum (see video below) at the Boston Public Library on July 10, 2011, "Why Fukushima Can Happen Here: What the NRC and the Nuclear Industry Don't Want You to Know," featuring two leading experts in the field of nuclear power plant safety, David Lochbaum, Director of Nuclear Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and renowned nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson. Lochbaum notes that the primary cause of the Fukushima explosions were the ironic loss of electricity to the plant. Only one of the 12 emergency backup generators survived the March 11, 2011 tsunami, and the second backup system of batteries were designed for only 8 hours of power (still double the US systems designed for 4 hours backup power).
Gunderson said that after the Fukushima explosions pieces of nuclear fuel pellets had escaped their zirconium fuel rod casings and were found over a mile away. He also pointed out that the U.S. government decided to evacuate Americans from Japan, not out of fear of reactor meltdowns, but out of fear of the spent fuel cooling pools (which hold far more radioactive fuel rods with far less structural design integrity and which cannot remain safe if water drains from them or if they do not have the power and means for circulating coolants). They noted that the Japanese did use dry storage containers and that the fuel in dry containers had remained secure from the earthquake, tsunami and power outage.
A 2006 report³ commissioned by Congress and the NRC found that dry cask storage is more secure than cooling pool storage because dry casks provide passive cooling [without the need for electricity] and are more secure and less concentrated targets for terrorists. Unfortunately, as of 2010, TVA was still storing over 86% of its 6.6 million pounds of spent fuel in cooling pools in the Tennessee Valley.
WHISTLEBLOWERS INCREASE OUR SAFETY
In the case of nuclear power, whistleblowers draw attention to dangerous conditions and negligent practices. America not only needs courageous whistleblowers who alert us at the reactor sites scattered around our country, but sadly we also need whistleblowers in our own Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – the organization whose mandate is to protect the public from the dangers of nuclear radiation. It is the job of the NRC's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate workers' concerns, as "an independent agency that serves as watchdog to the watchdog."
So what happens when neither the NRC nor its Inspector General investigates danger and corrects problems? Increased danger, according to George Mulley, a retired OIG Inspector of the NRC for 26 years. Since Fukushima, Mulley and another former OIG employee assert that the Inspector General's Office has "shied away from challenging the NRC at exactly the wrong time."
" 'We're in the nuclear power business.
It's not a trivial business;
it's public health and safety,' said Mulley,
who won the agency's top awards
and reviewed nearly every major investigation
the office conducted before he retired
as the chief investigator three years ago."
– Georg Mulley, retired OIG Inspector of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 26 years
One of Mulley''s concerns is an inaccurate method of predicting damage from an airliner crash into a plant, a method that several experts say is antiquated and should not be used. Despite the declared terrorists threats to nuclear power plants, the OIG is not investigating.
"Another former employee told ProPublica that the office has become reluctant to probe anything that could become controversial or raise difficult questions for the NRC."
Another major concern is that the NRC is revising Event Inquiry Reports and classifying them for internal use only, thereby keeping them hidden from the public, who pays for both agencies to protect U.S. citizens.
and hiding reports from the public
is extremely serious,
since it disallows public oversight
and permits substandard practices
in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
and its Office of Inspector General.
"Whistleblowers Say Nuclear Regulatory Commission Watchdog Is Losing Its Bite," by John Sullivan and Cameron Hickey, ProPublica, July 27, 2011.
Also see the two-part CBS News interviews with TVA whistleblowers on the upper right margin of this page.
"Nuclear Power Invites Terrorism"
– FBI director Robert S. Mueller
testifying before the US Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence
America paid attention to warnings about Al-Queda aircraft attacks after the horrors of September 11, 2001. After Katrina hit New Orleans, people lauded a 1998 issue of National Geographic, listing the most vulnerable U.S. locations for a level 4 or stronger hurricane, in which New Orleans was listed number one. Today we need to face the forewarnings, with potential terrorist attacks on nuclear reactors, nuclear waste storage on civilian plant sites or at almost unlimited locations with the transport of nuclear waste across the country. Al-Queda has declared our civilian nuclear power plants as targets.
Nuclear power reactors create plutonium during their operating cycle – plutonium from which nuclear bombs can be made. This is why we have declared a policy of non-proliferation and tried to prevent North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran from building nuclear power plants. Plutonium is one of the most toxic substances on earth, with a radioactive half-life of 24,000 years, which means it is dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.
"Another area we consider target rich
is the energy sector,
particularly nuclear power plants."
– FBI director Robert S. Mueller, 2005 testimony
Storing dangerous, highly radioactive so-called 'spent' fuel in cooling pools without secure containment facilities or in dry casks on-site at nuclear power plants, or transporting it across the country, all present inviting terrorist targets and put all affected communities at risk. The photograph above is of the No. 4 reactor at Fukushima, which according to an April 29. 2011 article in Scientific American, "How to Tear Down a Nuclear Power Plant", was not in operation when the earthquake hit, but according to the New York Times, "a spent fuel pool may have been uncovered, causing a partial meltdown and the release of radioactive materials. An explosion and fire have damaged the building."
Nuclear power is the only source of electricity that could cause millions of deaths. Nuclear power plants can only use the enriched uranium fuel rods for 18 months, then the power plants must store the much more highly enriched and radioactive so-called 'spent' fuel rods in cooling pools on-site for 5 to 10 years, in order for the rods to cool down enough to be stored in dry casks.
Our 104 domestic nuclear power plants, and the trucks and trains carrying radioactive fuel and waste, have been declared Al Queda terrorist targets. This is a tremendous vulnerability in America. Cooling pools are far more radioactive than reactor cores and are not protected from aerial attacks – whether tornadoes, hurricanes, aircraft or missiles.
POROUS LIMESTONE, SINKHOLES and EARTHQUAKE FAULT LINE
The two proposed AP1000 radioactive nuclear reactors on the right side of the TVA illustration above were proposed for location dangerously close to large sinkholes. The Bellefonte nuclear site is located over porous limestone rock which contains caves and sinkholes, known by geologists as Karst Terrain. The Sequatchie fault line earthquake zone is located approximately 1 mile west of this proposed radiation–producing site.
An example of a TVA flaw: the Kingston, TN coal ash spill in 2008. Radioactive spills are much more dangerous, require very long term (possibly permanent) evacuations, and are invisible killers.
POOR ENGINEERING, DESIGN FLAWS, and SLACK OVERSIGHT at TVA NUCLEAR FACILITIES
"There is no room for error in running a nuclear plant," says executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Stephen Smith. A 1982 Congressional report estimated that if a meltdown occurred at the Sequoyah nuclear plant near Chattanooga, it could cause up to 29,000 immediate deaths.
According to a 2008 energy study by Benjamin K. Sovacool, "A typical nuclear plant usually contains some 50 miles of piping welded 25 thousand times, and 900 miles of electrical cables."
Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to
metal fatigue, leaks, mechanical failures,
human error, backup failures,
as well as terrorist and cyber-attacks.
TVA whistleblower Mansour Guity, an electrical and nuclear engineer at Watts Bar, completed reports showing that hundreds of electrical cables, which he calls "the nervous system of a nuclear power plant," had been installed incorrectly at Watts Bar. According to the highly respected German magazine, Der Spiegel, "They demonstrate that the TVA cared very little about regulations."
"In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, he discovered that so many shortcuts were taken, and some of the work was so shoddy, during the construction of the nuclear plant along the Tennessee River that it made a mockery of any notion of nuclear safety."
The two reactor units at Watts Bar were built in the 1970s and 1980s, but only Unit #1 was "placed into operation." Unit #2 sat unfinished, until construction resumed a few years ago, and TVA plans to bring it online in 2012.
" Inside the plant, rows of thick power cables were bent at such sharp angles that they could be expected to fail at any time. Weld seams were not up to standards along lengthy segments. Concrete walls were too thin. Guity saw all of this with his own eyes, in his capacity as quality manager for the reactor project."
"Time bombs . . . We are sitting on
a bunch of ticking time bombs."
– Mansour Guity, nuclear engineer
and TVA whistleblower,
"New Reactor in Tennessee: Safety Concerns
Cloud US Nuclear Renaissance" by Ullrich Fichtner,
Der Spiegel Magazine, July 21, 2011
"Whistleblowers Say Nuclear Regulatory Commission Watchdog Is Losing Its Bite," by John Sullivan and Cameron Hickey, ProPublica, July 27, 2011.
Also see the two part CBS News investigation with interviews of TVA whistleblowers on the upper right margin of this page.
And read the "Poor Engineering, Design Flaws, and Slack Oversight at TVA Nuclear Facilities" section of this page below.
Chattanooga TN, AP Nov. 12, 2009 - The Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in north Alabama has a fire response problem that could lead to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission civil penalty. In a letter to TVA, the NRC said inspectors this year found that the plant near Athens, Ala., potentially violated four safety standards, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Thursday (Nov. 12, 2009)... Nuclear critics said the lingering fire safety violations raise questions about the way TVA operates its oldest nuclear facility.
Edwin Lyman, senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the newspaper that most of America's 104 reactors were designed before the NRC adopted its current fire safety standards. He said most don''t have the desired cable separation and firewalls between parts of the plants. "For a long time, the NRC was not issuing violations for fire safety issues. But lately the commission seems more determined to enforce these rules, which we believe is long overdue."
Chatanooga TN, AP April 8, 2010 - The Tennessee Valley Authority reported today that nearly 1,000 gallons of water containing the radioactive isotope tritium spilled from a water storage tank at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant on Wednesday.
[Read about tritium H₃0 on our Radioactive Poison page.]
Our own BEST member, Garry Morgan, has been keeping track of these incidents and compiled a list (from reports on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website) of forty – 40 Emergency and Serious Events between Oct and Dec of 2009. (see Event Reports below)
NUCLEAR FACILITY ACCIDENTS and SERIOUS EVENTS
There is a national concern that the formal press and media outlets do not report the frequency of Nuclear Facility Accidents and Serious Events within the United States. Aging nuclear power facilities do have systems failures, and redundant safety systems do fail. NRC reports also indicate a serious problem with nuclear fuels fabrication facilities. (see Event Reports to the NRC below)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reports reveal accidents resulting in Radioactive Materials being released into the local environment. These releases are rarely reported by the media.
The nuclear contracting industry has poured over $683 million dollars into lobbying Congress and public perceptions, and another $63 million into politicians campaign funds in the last 11 years. http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/nuclear-energy-lobbying. A culture of deceit and propaganda about nuclear safety is becoming more and more alarming.
TVA – BROWN'S FERRY REACTOR – MANUAL SCRAM
We all know the slang expression "Scram",
an imperative for "leave immediately".
Webster's Dictionary provides two Specialty energy definitions:
The sudden shutting down of a nuclear reactor, usually by rapid insertion of control rods, either automatically or manually by the reactor operator. May also be called a reactor trip. It is actually an acronym for "safety control rod axe man," the man assigned to insert the emergency rod on the first reactor (the Chicago pile) in the U. S. (references)
Act of shutting down a reactor suddenly to prevent or minimize a dangerous condition. Source: European Union. (references)
Browns Ferry, blue roofs are sheet metal over raised cooling pools.
[This Sept. 2009 report from BEST member Garry Morgan @ http://arklite.blogspot.com/search/label/nuclear%20safety.]
Unit 2 Reactor Scrams, safety equipment offline, coolant water level drops 50 inches before recovering. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2009/09/browns_ferry_nuclear_plant_shu.html
Official Report from NRC http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2009/20090930en.html Event 45391 This event occurred last night.
What would have happened if the cooling water had dropped a few more inches, hear about 3 Mile Island, how about Chernobyl? Nuclear Power is all so safe huh? How long did it take for the cooling water to return to the "safe level?"
Do you feel safe when the TVA and TVA's contractors punish their employees for reporting safety problems? http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090929/ARTICLES/909295030. Unfortunately there is a history of punishing those who report nuclear safety violations within the TVA.
Nuclear power is not safe, it is not clean (Just ask the 160,000 nuclear workers who have filed claims and the 40,000 whose claims have been approved and the 1200 whose claims were never paid due to their deaths.)and it is sure is not cheap. One plant's cost, 8-9 billion dollars and rising.
Update: The Browns Ferry Unit 2 Nuclear Reactor Scrammed due to equipment failure at 11:23 PM on the 29th of Sept. 2009. The TVA reported, "HPCI and RCIC actuated as expected to restore reactor water level. Reactor pressure control was maintained on the turbine bypass valves, and no Main Steam Relief Valves (MSRVs) were opened as a result of the transient."
"At this time the unit is stable in mode 3. Reactor water level is being controlled using one Reactor Feedwater pump. HPCI and RCIC have been returned to standby readiness. Reactor pressure is being automatically maintained by the main turbine bypass valves." So they stated, but was this a true statement? Did the RCIC actually return to standby readiness?
The subsequent event report, after review of the event data reads, " "The initial notification made at 0409 hours ET on September 30, 2009, reported that the RCIC system actuated as expected in conjunction with the HPCI to restore Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) water level. However, during a review of plant data, BFN [Browns Ferry Nuclear] determined that after receiving a valid actuation signal, RCIC failed to inject to the RPV. The cause of the failure is under investigation. " The RCIC is the reactor core isolation cooling system, a very important safety asset failed. This is what caused the reactor water level to drop 50 inches but was not reported in the initial report.
The initial report mentioned above was in error and false. A violation of Atomic Safety Protocol even though it has been corrected in the subsequent report. Inaccurate reporting reflects a failure in the attention to detail, a personal reliability issue. A lack of attention to detail is not a desirable trait for the management of a nuclear power plant.
Update: The NRC Event report was updated the next day to reflect an accurate report after a review of event data. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2009/20091001en.html The updated report reads, " * * * UPDATE FROM MIKE HUNTER TO JOE O'HARA AT 1508 ON 9/30/09 * * * "The initial notification made at 0409 hours ET on September 30, 2009, reported that the RCIC system actuated as expected in conjunction with the HPCI to restore Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) water level. However, during a review of plant data, BFN [Browns Ferry Nuclear] determined that after receiving a valid actuation signal, RCIC failed to inject to the RPV. The cause of the failure is under investigation. "The licensee informed the NRC Resident Inspector of the update and does not plan a press release." Notified R2DO(Ernstes)."
40 Emergency and Serious Events
During Just One Quarter
Oct - Dec of 2009
The following information was compiled by BEST member, Garry Morgan, from the Event Reports to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission NRC. Go to the NRC link for more detailed event reports:
NRC Emergency and Serious Event Reports for 1st Quarter FY 2010, October–December 2009. Serious contamination events, fires, security breeches and failed safety systems reflect serious problems for U.S. nuclear reactors and nuclear fuels manufacturing facilities. (40 events)
NOTE: Scrams are unplanned, sudden reactor shut-downs that are known to cause stress and metal fatigue on the reactor containment vessels.
24 Reactor Scrams, in all cases the reactor's control rods inserted properly and the reactors were reported as stable.
45391, 45394, 45404, 45409, 45412, 45421, 45433, 45440, 45445, 45474, 45482, 45483, 45484, 45499, 45520, 45537, 45547, 45549, 45556, 45557, 45577, 45583, 45588, 45597.
Pump failures, electrical systems failures, high pressure fluid leaks, reactor core coolant level drops and valve failures were the primary causes of the reactor scrams.
4 Fire Events #:
45407-Areva fuels plant, radioactive materials released, fire, failure to declare emergency.
45497-Nuclear Fuels Svc. Erwin, Tn., fire and explosion, contamination to employees possible but not reported.
45515-Summer, Sc., unit 1, fire in protected area more than 15 minutes, switch gear room, emergency declared.
45565- Farley, Al. unit 1, fire in CCW heat exchanger room more than 15 minutes.
7 Contamination Events #:
45413-Paducah, Ky. fuels plant.
45510-Ginna, Ny. unit 1, Cesium 137 spill during pipe replacement.
45514- Three Mile Island, Pa. unit 1, radiation release, 150 workers contaminated, unlisted degree of contamination.
45517-Beaver Valley, Pa unit 1, EMERGENCY declared, reactor cooling system leak greater than 25 gallons per minute. Total quantity of coolant in spill not disclosed, contamination limited to containment building.
45527-nuclear fuels facility;
45593-Fitzpatrick, NY reactor unit 1, Tritium leak into storm drain, amount not disclosed.
45533-Ft Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant, NE, this event occurred while employee was working on the reactor coolant pump at the Ft. Calhoun, Ne. nuclear plant, this was a serious personal contamination event.
4 Safety related Events #:
45522-Turkey Point, FL. dropped fuel rods;
45492-Paducah, Ky. protective pipe sheaths missing
45527-Paducah Fuel Plant, failed safety equipment and continuous safety systems failure.
45601-Erwin, Tn. fuel fabrications facility, suspension of processes due to repetitive safety failures.
1 Security Event #:
45521-Turkey Point, Fl., Thirty-three [yes, 33] Cuban Nationals entered the facilities security area. One of the illegals contacted the Control Room by cell phone to inform them that they were on the facility and had arrived in a boat.
Compiled from NRC.gov Event Reports by BEST/MATRR member Garry Morgan @
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