Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cyber Blow-Back...

Yesterday's huge cyber-attack discloses our infrastructure's vulnerabilities.
Dustin Voltz. (2017, May 12). Global cyber attack fuels concern about U.S. vulnerability disclosures. Reuters,
A global cyber attack on Friday renewed concerns about whether the U.S. National Security Agency and other countries' intelligence services too often hoard software vulnerabilities for offensive purposes, rather than quickly alerting technology companies to such flaws. Hacking tools believed to belong to the NSA that were leaked online last month appear to be the root cause of a major cyber attack unfurling throughout Europe and beyond, security researchers said, stoking fears that the spy agency's powerful cyber weapons had been stolen and repurposed by hackers with nefarious goals.
Imagine an extended power outage. What would happen to spent fuel pool cooling if the outage lasts more than a few days.

Here is a relevant post from 2011 on this subject:


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"                                             
[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....
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.,

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.

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

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, especially to sustained power outages.

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