Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back Up Generators and Nuclear Power Plants


On November 2, 2012 The Wall Street Journal reported that "Few Big FEMA Generators Humming: Federal Officials' Tally of Emergency Power Supplies Shifts: Stricken States Tap Fraction of Equipment" page A4 by D. Barrett

The article examine the problem of making back-up generators available in the event of wide-spread power outages, as illustrated with the case of Sandy.

The article notes that matching the size/type of generator to the need is challenging and takes time.

The article does not discuss the types of back-up generators needed for nuclear power plants.

I wonder how difficult it is to find and deliver a back-up generator for a nuclear power plant whose generators on hand have failed?

The website Nuclear Tourist provides photos of what back-up generators look like for nuclear power plants. They are HUGE, as illustrated here

I cannot imagine the logistical challenges in delivering one of these generators to a nuclear power plant in need.

Nuclear power plant generators do fail. In fact, October 9 2011 it was reported that, "4 generator failures hit US nuclear plants" http://newssun.suntimes.com/business/8125070-420/4-generator-failures-hit-us-nuclear-plants.html                                             

[Excerpted] Four generators that power emergency systems at nuclear plants have failed when needed since April, an unusual cluster that has attracted the attention of federal inspectors and could prompt the industry to re-examine its maintenance plans....In the U.S., an average of roughly one diesel generator has failed when needed each year since 1997....

Majia here: The article provides details describing the frequency and consequences of generator failures at nuclear power plants in the US. The details are alarming.

How many nuclear power plant back-up generators does FEMA have on hand? How would a generator so large be delivered? I can find no answers to these questions.

However, I do find quite a few detailed discussions of the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants to EMPs from solar flares and from flooding. E.G., http://www.whentechfails.com/node/1545

With false bravado, the nuclear industry claims hurricane Sandy demonstrates the resilience of the nuclear industry:

"Hurricane Sandy once again demonstrates the robust construction of nuclear energy facilities, which are built to withstand extreme flooding and hurricane-force winds that are beyond that historically reported for each area," said Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/30/superstorm-sandy-nuclear-power-plants_n_2042598.html

I would say quite the opposite is true.

Hurricane Sandy resulted in significant problems to multiple nuclear power plants on the US east coast. I doubt FEMA could have delivered back-up generators in a timely manner to plants suffering generator losses due to flooding or simple lack of maintenance.

Transformers are also vulnerable at nuclear power plants, as illustrated by this story involving a generator fire from Enenews: NRC Report: New York nuclear plant entered emergency plan because it couldn’t extinguish fire — FEMA, DHS were notified — Fukushima-type reactor http://enenews.com/nrc-report-new-york-nuclear-plant-entered-emergency-plan-because-it-couldnt-extinguish-fire-fema-dhs-were-notified

Take a look at the size of a nuclear plant transformer here

Nuclear power plants are very vulnerable and dangerous assemblages. The challenges of making back-up generators and transformers available in a timely manner alone demonstrate the insanity of these assemblages.

Indeed, one headline from the days of the disaster suggests that firefighters armed with hoses were the last resort for cooling spent fuel pools that had lost cooling functions, presumably due to loss of power (and loss of back-up generators):

UPDATE 1-US nuclear plant declares "alert" after Sandy storm surge-NRC Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:51am EDT http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/30/storm-sandy-exelon-oystercreek-idUSL3E8LU1S120121030
Exelon Corp declares alert at New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear plant on storm surge * Further water rise could mean fire hose to cool spent rods-NRC spokesman

GUNDERSEN ON DEMOCRACY NOW:
"The biggest problem, as I see it right now, is the Oyster Creek plant, which is on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey," says former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen, noting it lies in the projected eye of the storm. "Oyster Creek is the same design, but even older than Fukushima Daiichi unit 1. It’s in a refueling outage. That means that all the nuclear fuel is not in the nuclear reactor, but it’s over in the spent fuel pool. And in that condition, there’s no backup power for the spent fuel pools. So, if Oyster Creek were to lose its offsite power — and, frankly, that’s really likely — there would be no way cool that nuclear fuel that’s in the fuel pool until they get the power reestablished. ... The most important lesson we can take out of the Fukushima Daiichi and climate change, and especially with Hurricane Sandy, is that we can’t expect to cool these fueling pools."
http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2012/10/29/nuclear_plants_from_virginia_to_vermont


PREVIOUS POSTS


Oct 29, 2012
Washington's Blog: Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant. http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-10-29/hurricane-sandy-may-score-direct-hit-spent-fuel-pools-nuclear-plant ...

Oct 28, 2012
Nuclear Plants at Risk by Hurricane Sandy: Nuclear Plants Face Flood Threats and Risks of Electrical Outages. Nuclear power plants are dangerous because they can suffer severe accidents as a result of fires, floods, and ...

Oct 31, 2012
[Excerpted] The nation's oldest nuclear plant declared an alert and a second plant just 40 miles from New York City was forced to shut down power as five different nuke plants in Hurricane Sandy's path experienced problems ...

Oct 31, 2012
[Excerpted] Three nuclear power reactors were shut down because of electricity issues during Hurricane Sandy, while a fourth plant, Oyster Creek in New Jersey, remains in “alert” mode because of high water levels in its ...

Nov 02, 2012
America's nuclear safety under scrutiny after Oyster Creek's Sandy alert Richard Schiffman Nov 1, 2012 The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/01/nuclear-safety-oyster-creek-sandy-alert [Excerpted] ...

Nov 02, 2012
Enenews: NRC: Spent fuel pool cooling lost at NJ's Oyster Creek nuclear plant during Hurricane Sandy http://enenews.com/nrc-spent-fuel-pool-cooling-lost-njs-oyster-creek-nuclear-plant-during-hurricane-sandy ...

Oct 29, 2012
SOURCE: UPDATE 1-US nuclear plant declares "alert" after Sandy storm surge-NRC Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:51am EDT http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/30/storm-sandy-exelon-oystercreek-idUSL3E8LU1S120121030 ...



Nov 06, 2012
Also see Gundersen's analysis here: Gundersen: Nuclear fuel pool started to heat up at New Jersey plant due to Sandy — They were bringing in fire pumps because of all the problems (AUDIO. Also see this article in The ...

19 comments:

  1. Sheesh, they cant even find a fire hose when they need one, much less integrate a large EDG in emergency conditions.

    Sheesh...they cant even give out water or warm clothing when the chips are down on a very human scale.

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  2. Nice article. We are sharing here balance power plant report , To find out best exercise in the market so as to help the project developers in performing the BOP projects in conditions of decreasing the time and charge over runs in project management and contractual attractions.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. Reports in UK started 1981 of sabotage of backup generators. In 1987 an electrician attempted to make a crime complaint of sabotage to Kent Police. In addition a crime complaint of company fraud (Falsification of factory load test records when no tests took place in manufacture)

    Police would not take on a Queens Award to Industry manufacturer.

    Whilst wishing to avoid being branded a conspiracy theorist I would ask you to refer to the collapse of tower 7 on 9 11. The missing 12000 gallons of backup generator diesel fuel.

    From 1987 two methods of lurking sabotage have been reported concerning diesel transfer systems for backup generators. One is the continuous pump in a real emergency. THis is where the demand signalling just keeps demanding and diesel just keeps pumping, overflows at local tanks and penetrates the building. (Credit Suisse London 1987 first reported incident of reversal of signal wiring)

    The other consequence is the non pump. Then the backup acts as a defacto delay timer. Appearing to be providing backup power properly and then suddenly failing when the local tank runs out. (Guys Hospital London 87 and 95 the latter with tragic consequence the death of a child patient in post op ICU when power to life support was cut off when the backup genny unreplenished local tank ran out and backup power failed)

    Hunterston B Dec 1998 may be the nearest UK has come to Chernobyl due to failing back up gennies. But Dounreay 1998, 2000 and 2001 may have caused more trouble than the authorities admit. Ten billion pound clean up and decommission.

    Keep up the good work of making people aware.

    We certainly have a manufacturer who avoided a product recall when faced with the facts they should really on site dismantle, re assemble or replace and then test perhaps 1000s of site backups. Hospitals, police stations and nuclear shut downs.




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  5. Reports in UK started 1981 of sabotage of backup generators. In 1987 an electrician attempted to make a crime complaint of sabotage to Kent Police. In addition a crime complaint of company fraud (Falsification of factory load test records when no tests took place in manufacture)

    Police would not take on a Queens Award to Industry manufacturer.

    Whilst wishing to avoid being branded a conspiracy theorist I would ask you to refer to the collapse of tower 7 on 9 11. The missing 12000 gallons of backup generator diesel fuel.

    From 1987 two methods of lurking sabotage have been reported concerning diesel transfer systems for backup generators. One is the continuous pump in a real emergency. THis is where the demand signalling just keeps demanding and diesel just keeps pumping, overflows at local tanks and penetrates the building. (Credit Suisse London 1987 first reported incident of reversal of signal wiring)

    The other consequence is the non pump. Then the backup acts as a defacto delay timer. Appearing to be providing backup power properly and then suddenly failing when the local tank runs out. (Guys Hospital London 87 and 95 the latter with tragic consequence the death of a child patient in post op ICU when power to life support was cut off when the backup genny unreplenished local tank ran out and backup power failed)

    Hunterston B Dec 1998 may be the nearest UK has come to Chernobyl due to failing back up gennies. But Dounreay 1998, 2000 and 2001 may have caused more trouble than the authorities admit. Ten billion pound clean up and decommission.

    Keep up the good work of making people aware.

    We certainly have a manufacturer who avoided a product recall when faced with the facts they should really on site dismantle, re assemble or replace and then test perhaps 1000s of site backups. Hospitals, police stations and nuclear shut downs.




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  9. I think it's a good idea to have a generator on standby in those sorts of situations. I can't imagine what would happen if nuclear fission was occurring and it couldn't be controlled because of lack of energy. The same applies for just about any home or plant. It's just good to have back-up energy.

    Gerald Vonberger | http://www.originaldonnelly.com/generators/

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  10. Your information is nice but I want to share one more load bank rental program regarding generators which is used in power plants.

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