Monday, June 27, 2011

Fort Calhoun Nuke Plant: Flood Water Has "Seeped" into the Turbine Building But "Everything's Under Control"

I guess it all depends on the definition of the word "seep".

And all the buildings at the plant were supposed to be "watertight", according to the NRC.

From AP (6/27/2011):

Floodwater seeps into Nebraska nuke plant building

OMAHA (AP) -- Missouri River floodwater seeped into the turbine building at a nuclear power plant near Omaha on Monday, but plant officials said the seepage was expected and posed no safety risk because the building contains no nuclear material.

An 8-foot-tall, water-filled temporary berm protecting the plant collapsed early Sunday. Vendor workers were at the plant Monday to determine whether the 2,000 foot berm can be repaired.

Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson said pumps were handling the problem at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station and that "everything is secure and safe." The plant, about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been closed for refueling since April. Hanson said the berm's collapse didn't affect the shutdown or the spent fuel pool cooling.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks described the situation as stable. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko plans to inspect the Fort Calhoun plant on Monday as part of a pre-arranged visit to Nebraska.

(The article continues.)

Doesn't it all sound familiar for people who have been following Fukushima?

Hypothetical progression of the minor "incident" at Fort Calhoun, after the established Fukushima model:

"Everything under control, buildings are watertight."
"Well, there was some "seepage" in the turbine building, but everything is secure and safe. It's all part of the plan."
"Well, the turbine building is actually flooded, but the reactor building is secure."
"Well, there's some water puddles in the reactor building, but the Containment Vessel is secure."
"Well, ....."

In this picture of the plant (H/T Dominique), I see sandbags against some openings. Is this what they meant by "watertight"? (More photos at this link.)



11 comments:

Anonymous said...

EX-SKF:

Yes, we've heard it all before, haven't we... and oh so recently too.

LOL! I was thinking of a 'hypothetical' dialog much like yours.

AguaDam = 'flood BERM' and 'A secondary line of defense that's not really necessary but convenient for worker access..."

People called them on that in social media and they finally had to change their tune and finally admit that they damaged the AquaDam themselves. So keep at the bastards. The multitudes can make a difference.

About the AquaDam. If they only filled the rubber tube with enough water to match the encroaching water and filled the rest with air they wouldn't have had this problem. With the whole tube filled with water a single nick would spell disaster. All that water trying to get out. If there was only two feet of water in the AquaDam and air in the rest it would have been more resistant to damage and there would be a chance of making a repair if one happened anyway. The pressure would be much lower at a puncture point and less likely to tear. Emergency air and water could be pumped in to maintain the integrity of the AquaDam while repairs take place.

Simple physics. Obviously the manufacturers of the AquaDam don't know what they're doing. I'm smelling a Keystone Cops moment here.

Anonymous said...

What, in this case, does closed for refueling mean?

Is this akin to reeactor 4, where the fuel was removed from the reactor, but stored in an upper floor pool, where it could do unhappy things?

Is the new fuel also waiting in a pool on the premises?

Is it good that it was closed for refueling, or, in this case, bad?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

What, in this case, does closed for refueling mean?

"Is this akin to reeactor 4, where the fuel was removed from the reactor, but stored in an upper floor pool, where it could do unhappy things?"

Yes, exactly.

"Is the new fuel also waiting in a pool on the premises?"

Good question!

"Is it good that it was closed for refueling, or, in this case, bad?"

It's bad. If they lose cooling, water will reach boiling much faster and there is no primary containment around it (Which we now know from Fukushima to be useless as the 'safety device' it was meant to be).

Anonymous said...

Awww...effing crap, now on top of everything, a wildlife fire is threatening the Los Alamos nuke lab too???

Anonymous said...

Robbie001sez:

LANL has survived major wild fires 5 times before this the last fire (Cero Grande) was in 2000.

www.nfpa.org/assets/files/MbrSecurePDF/LosAlamos.pdf

During the Cerro Grande fire the radiation detection system was down (where have we heard that before?) The link below outlines a lot of disturbing things these are just a few.

"However, all systems were down for 48 hours during the peak of the fire as it swept across the Laboratory. Therefore, there may be significant gaps in the data".

"The fire left more than 400 Los Alamos residents homeless, destroyed or damaged several hundred structures and disrupted the operation of the entire LANL site. The fire spread over several hundred waste disposal sites and areas contaminated with radioactivity and other hazardous materials.

While it raged, the fire released radioactive and hazardous airborne contaminants from LANL and from burning vegetation and debris. In the fire's aftermath, the magnitude of its destruction significantly changed environmental conditions and has increased the risks of flash floods, surface and groundwater contamination, and large amounts of LANL contaminants entering the Rio Grande."

http://www.nuclearactive.org/docs/CerroGrandeindex.html

Ian Goddard said...

They'll be saying "no worry" and "no immediate danger" even if the plant melts down. NukeSpeak is meaningless!

And don't forget:

"When Fort Calhoun is shut down for maintenance and refueling, only one-third of the fuel in the reactor core is removed. Besides the hot fuel remaining in the core, there is even more fuel stored in the spent-fuel pool, which is not shut down."

http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/dawn-stover/rising-water-falling-journalism

Anonymous said...

Just a small detail about the spent fuel pool at Fort Calhoun Nuke Plant :

In contrast to Fukushima, these pools are at ground level. Its quite logic, since it is much cheaper to dig a hole and let the surrounding soil support the weight of all the water in the pool than to put it up at a higher place. Just imagine all the concrete they saved when the plant was built.

Oh, in case of an 'unlikely' flooding, this might be a bit unpractical, but- hey - no worries, everything is under control .....

Anonymous said...

"n contrast to Fukushima, these pools are at ground level. Its quite logic, since it is much cheaper to dig a hole and let the surrounding soil support the weight of all the water in the pool than to put it up at a higher place."

Not exactly. My understanding is that the Spent Fuel pool at Ft. Calhoun is 40 feet underground and 40 feet above ground for a combined total of 80 feet.

Fukishima also had a large "ground level" Spent fuel pool. The pools above the reactors were used for temporary storage.

I think the big issue is if the water is seeping in to buildings is how much before it reaches the internal electrical switching gear. If it shorts out the switching gear, it won't matter if the plant has functioning outside power or diesel backup power. Power needs to reach the pump to cool the Spend fuel rods.

Anonymous said...

@ Robbie,

echoes of Hanford

"The fire spread over several hundred waste disposal sites and areas contaminated with radioactivity and other hazardous materials."

Wondering what nasty little secrets Los Alamos holds.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@ Anon 3:42

Just about every phase of the old nuclear weapons complex hold untold future disaster.

Los Alamos is running a huge nuclear waste dump in "Area G" they hope to eventually send some of this to the WIPP facility in New Mexico. I don't think that will happen unless they expand the WIPP I'm pretty sure it is already booked up.

"Before 1971, all TRU wastes generated at LANL were irretrievably buried on the Pajarito Plateau. After this date, TRU waste was stored on site beneath mounds of earth; these stored wastes are now being moved into large fabric domes, visible on the skyline for many miles. In 1984, the definition of TRU waste was changed by a factor of ten, so that more plutonium wastes could be buried permanently at Area G and other disposal sites around the country."

http://www.lasg.org/waste/area-g.htm

http://www.lasg.org/waste/area-g-waste.htm

"Making a Real Killing" by Len Ackland
ISBN: 0-8263-2798-2 is a revealing look into the history of Rocky Flats and it's multiple fires leading to one maybe more Pu filter stack failures. It also covers the FBI raid and subsequent shutdown of the facility due to multiple and chronic environmental crimes.

"The Ambushed Grand Jury" by Wes McKinley and Caron Balkany Esq. ISBN: 1-891843-28-1 is the story of how the Justice Dept covered up the nuclear crimes at Rocky Flats after the FBI raid. The first page is a reprint of the 2001 letter written by FBI agent Jon Lipsky to congress saying he was ordered to lie about the investigation Rocky Flats was closed and "cleaned up" but the standard for Pu contamination of the soil is a joke.

www.ambushedgrandjury.com/pdf/Reviews.pdf

http://www.ambushedgrandjury.com/pdf/PlutoniumPlaygrounds.pdf

"On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Site" by Michele Stenehjem Gerber ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-8032-5995-9

This book covers the history of the Hanford reservation and attempts at remediation. Most of these books can be found used on Amazon.com don't be surprised if you get an old library copy most of my used anti-nuclear books come from library purges.

BTW, WIPP has it's own "secrets". When the WIPP facility was first opened they had problems with hot brine inclusions so they resurveyed and called the brine problem an "experiment" and went on with the burial of waste generated in the production of nuclear materials for the military as if it didn't happen.

http://www.unm.edu/~ryand/otherwipp/otherwipp4.html

http://newmexicoindependent.com/23720/wipp-shouldnt-aspire-to-be-nations-nuclear-waste-dump

www.wipp.energy.gov/.../Molecke_1983_A_Comparison_of_Brines_...

"In the real world, however, things aren't that simple. WIPP was conceived in the late 1960s, when a series of fires at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility near Denver sent plutonium plumes into the city air. In response to the accidents, the DOE began shipping waste from Rocky Flats to a temporary site at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory in southeastern Idaho. At the same time, it began hunting for a permanent and safe disposal site. In anticipation of the proposed opening, nuclear weapons facilities around the country accumulated - and stored in temporary holdings - enormous amounts of radioactive waste. Finally, in 1979, the DOE determined Carlsbad to be the ideal location for WIPP, and soon after, the site was authorized by the U.S. Congress. That's when the protests began."

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_n1_v9/ai_20417686/

Mac said...

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