Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fast Breeder Reactor Monju's Coolant Heating System Accidentally Switched Off for 30 Minutes, No Effect on the Environment, Says JAEA

JAEA again, this time on the fast breeder reactor Monju that this agency "operates" (if it can be called "operating").

Coolant for Monju, sodium, is supposed to be kept at 200 degrees Celsius.

So what's the excuse this time?

Their manual was not well written!

Do you trust these people to run a nuclear reactor, not to mention fast breeder reactor that uses liquid metal that explodes on contact with water and ignites on contact with air?

Do you trust these people to export nuclear reactors all over the world, claiming the superior technology and know-hows, including know-hows from "lessons learned from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident"?

Good luck, Czech Republic. Good luck, India, Vietnam, and Turkey.

From Kyodo News (6/8/2013):

もんじゅ、ヒーター停止 ナトリウム一時保温できず

Monju's heater stopped, sodium wasn't kept warm enough temporarily


Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) announced on June 7 that at Fast Breeder Reactor Monju (Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture) the heater to keep the secondary coolant, sodium, warm was switched off accidentally for about 30 minutes during the inspection of electric systems on June 2. The cause is attributed to human error due to poor instructions in the manual.


In certain part of the pipe, the temperature dropped 40 degrees Celsius from the normal 200 degrees Celsius, but there was no effect on the environment or the reactor, according to JAEA. Melting point of sodium is about 98 degrees Celsius.


JAEA reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Fukui Prefecture and Tsuruga City on June 3. The reason for the delay in reporting was, according to JAEA, because "it was the very minor incident that didn't require reporting, according to our internal [i.e. unofficial] rules".

So they blame the manual for the incident, but abide by the other, unofficial manual and decide they don't need to report it.

If they didn't notice the heater was off for another hour, they would have been in a big trouble (assuming the temperature drop is linear).

The footage of 1995 sodium leak accident is still there on the net, despite TV Asahi's copyright claim.

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority has already ordered JAEA to stop all the work for preparation for the restart, as 10,000 parts and equipments weren't maintained according to the schedule.

Again, good luck Czech Republic, India, Vietnam, Turkey. And many others, no doubt, now that Japan's Prime Minister Abe and President Francois Hollande of France have formed a formidable team to sell nuclear plants all over the world...


Anonymous said...

More precisely, the ATMEA deal was proposed and refused by Turkey during Sarkozy's years (before Abe and Hollande) as a sanction on France's position about the Armenian "genocide" by the Turks.
see and scroll down : (Turkish paper in english)

Hollande was in China and Japan to do his job that includes travelling salesman and dealer for France, but although your words of a "formidable team" make me laugh, they don't fit my understanding. I read in Bloomberg's paper how Hollande's words are diplomacy and circumvent "abenomics".


netudiant said...

It may be that nuclear power requires more sustained discipline than human nature can provide.
Certainly the litany of dumb mistakes leading nuclear facilities to grief is a very long one and excludes no one, American, European or Asian. Goethe said that 'Against stupidity, the gods themselves fight in vain'.
Thus far, the evidence is that no one in the world has found a way to banish stupidity from the nuclear village.

Anonymous said...

This is a trifle alarmist:
- The temperature won't drop linearly, the drop will slow down.
- Even if some sodium solidifies, it doesn't matter as long most is liquid.
- Even if all solidifies, it may cause mechanical damage, but nothing else.
What is more unsettling is the loop-type design of Monju, which isn't so robust, and the culture of neglect hinting that there would be serious trouble in case something more worrying happens, like a sodium fire or reaction with water…

Anonymous said...

Stupidity has often nothing to do with problems at industrial installations, including npps. My impression is that, more often than not, cost cutting and externalization of costs are the major culprits.
Having said so, using metallic sodium as coolant is indeed stupid; the good news is that Monju fulfills its purpose (allow Japan to stockpile plutonium) even if it does not generate a single watt of electricity, as it has done so far.


Anonymous said...

Typical human fail. We are constantly hanging on a thread because of natural human stupidity.

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