Nebraskashima After the Hefty Bag AquaBerm Busted

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“Working at a Nuclear Power Plant” parody

Like it was a good idea to make a water berm out of a giant Hefty garbage bag. You’re protecting a nuclear plant with WHAT??? Crusty the Clown just might sell such a thing to Mr. Smithers. So much for the promo commercial for the device about how it protected a nuclear reactor from flooding. But wait, there’s more…. (then the fast-talk disclaimer mentions keeping equipment and other sharp objects away from the product, not to be used to protect nuclear power plants…) Somebody on a forklift at 1:30 AM punctured the dang thing and it deflated leaving 2 ft of water all over the place, and the plant was on emergency backup power for a while because water got to another connection, but it’s back to offsite power again. They told NBC news which briefly mentioned that that berm bursting “had no effect on operations”. At the end you can see a line of guys in hard hats and ties going “Hi Ho Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go” down the scaffolding which has life preservers at intervals in case somebody slips into the drink. No word on how they are getting inside from 1st floor doors with 2 feet of water. People are camping inside to keep watch. On the one hand, officials thought the dry cask for spent fuel was already in a puddle, but this slide 4 shot shows the smaller white building with round holes on the side and ridges on top is on the other dry patch besides the power towers.

Rachael Maddow shows how the left is completely running rings around conservatives like Beck who are out to lunch on nuclear safety: “Nobody’s Freaking Out Here”… “most ominous way ever devised to boil water”. The “sky is falling” blogosphere has been all over this all June, but all the nutty rumours about near-meltdown at least finally has the MSM parroting the “everything is fine, there is no need to panic” line by sunday and monday. So go back home, nothing to see except a reactor knee deep in water with pumps working to remove water from places that shouldn’t have water in them.

MaryGreely, one of the more worried people out ther posted this overhead flyby after the berm burst, dunno where she got this shot.

Foust on Flooding

e-mail from Nancy: The NRC already got an earful from some members of Congress and a few anti-nuclear groups over the casual attitude they were taking on station blackout events.

They claimed 4 hours (battery life at most plants) was enough to get supplies in (fuel, parts etc) or get a new power line hooked up. I don’t know what planet the NRC lives on.
Even with very organized and skilled workers it can take far longer than that if your also dealing with an ongoing natural disaster. The midwest can have heavy storms that last for days. Blizzards can last for 2-4 days easily around here. Hurricanes most obviously take a long period of time to move through an area. Then take into account damaged roads, possibly damaged vehicles and equipment or being unable to locate workers after or during a storm.

All of these scenarios boil down to electricals. If the switching equipment is ruined or made unusable for a period of time it doesn’t matter how much diesel you have on site or how many extra grid connections you have. If the wiring that controls everything is toast your screwed. This was at the core of the events at Fukushima. Even after the fact TEPCO wanted to try to reestablish electrical connections at #2. The sea water got into the switching equipment in the basement and ruined it all. The workers that saw it said it was a lost cause.

The Nebraska reactor operators keep telling everyone about things that largely don’t matter and fail to mention what does. Where are the electrical systems? Are they redundant? Are any of the core systems (pumps, controls etc) wired in a manner they could be isolated out and run independently if the main switching equipment gets flooded? If they have the ability to run pumps and monitor sensors they could potentially keep things going even in a very bad scenario.

I did notice that all the voices (even the ones screaming inaccurate information) are forcing OPPD and NPPD to talk to the media. Now if we can get people to sort out the real issues and get people asking the right questions there is the potential to force both to give some real answers. “Everything is safe” is the new “no immediate harm to human health”…

Earthquake Plus Flood – It’s All Covered and Good

Now that’s a pleasant thought earthquake + flood but it’s all covered and planned for: NYT Managers brought in two tankerloads of extra diesel fuel and have stocked up on all the other consumable materials the plant uses, including hydrogen and carbon dioxide, in case of problems bringing in materials by truck. At Cooper on Sunday, plant officials led Gregory B. Jaczko, the N.R.C. chairman, on a tour, past thousands of feet of new berms and buildings where every doorway was barricaded with four-foot-high water barriers that are intended to survive even if an earthquake hits during a flood.

Shut Down Cooper NOW!

Here’s what Nancy Foust has to say about the effort to get the other plant to shut down now rather than wait for an emergency:

“ sent out an action alert last week demanding Cooper shut down now rather than waiting for water to hit the shut down level they have determined. It takes a considerable amount of time to complete a normal shutdown. The ONLY reason anyone I have spoken to can come up with as to why Cooper is still running is that Entergy has the contract to run Cooper for NPPD. Follow the money. Entergy likely gets some sort of financial benefit based on performance at Cooper. NPPD claims they are making up for the loss of local power from Ft. Calhoun. In some older news articles found online where a state level politician wanted to add another reactor at Ft. Calhoun it was pointed out that Calhoun was already excess generation capacity. I did not see where Cooper falls in that state needed capacity.
Cooper’s continued operation is a greed based risk.”

A plant that is already in cold shutdown is at much less risk of a meltdown since it’s only doing decay heat.

A plant surrounded by sand bags, scaffolding, giant hefty bags and such are obviously NOT designed to operate normally in conditions like this except in an emergency. There’s no road, no dock, and no helicopter pad, all we see is the long walking path, but no way to get trucks in unless they swim. Only tour operators use DUKWs these days. They were planning on giving FOX news and the NRC chairman a tour, but they cancelled when the berm busted. Still it seems every time they say things are fine, they get worse, and that bad things are very, very unlikely rather than impossible. Hopefully this won’t just be a game to see just how close they can get before the officials start saying scary things. It’s like dominos, the fewer things on the path to disaster we can scratch off as impossible, the better. Like Maddow noted “98.7 percent chance of success of averting a meltdown” is ALMOST good enough.

I was at MIT laughing at these guys who ended up stopping the Seabrook nuclear plant. Not quite as funny today.

About the Author

MIT electrical engineering computer science graduate has written conservative columns on politics, race / culture, science and education since the 70s in MIT The Tech and various publications in including New Republic and National Review.