Steam Tube Abrasion at Nuclear Plant - 50 Miles - West Palm Beach
FL Nuclear Gets More Troubling
St. Lucie Florida nuclear plant In late February, the Tampa Bay Times broke a story about unprecedented damage occurring to replacement steam generators, a critical safety component, at Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie Unit 2 reactor on Hutchinson Island, about 50 miles north of West Palm Beach, Florida. It has the most damaged steam generator tubes of any operating reactor in the country. SACE immediately retained nuclear engineering experts to assess the situation as a planned refueling outage was scheduled to begin in early March, which would include an inspection of the degraded steam generator tubes. This would be the first outage since FPL increased the power rating of the reactor in 2012, further stressing the already-damaged tubes.
Cooling Tubes at FPL St. Lucie Nuke Plant Show Significant Wear
More than 3,700 tubes that help cool a nuclear reactor at Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie facility exhibit wear. Most other similar plants have between zero and a few hundred.
Worst case: A tube bursts and spews radioactive fluid. That’s what happened at the San Onofre plant in California two years ago. The plant shut down forever because it would have cost too much to fix.
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In 2009, FPL shut down the reactor for routine refueling. An inspection found that the tubes were banging against the stainless steel antivibration bars, leaving dents and wear spots.
More than 2,000 tubes showed some wear in 5,855 separate places. (A tube can be worn in multiple spots.)
At that time — this was three years before San Onofre — it was by far the most wear found at the 20 or so similar plants with new generators, according to filings with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Salem 2 plant in New Jersey had 1,567 wear indications when first inspected, but no other plant had more than a few hundred. The typical plant had fewer than 20.
Aging steam generators near the end of their useful lives can develop significant tube wear, but to sustain thousands of wear indications just a couple of years after installation is unusual.
"St. Lucie is the outlier of all the active plants," said Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and frequent critic of the nuclear industry.
FPL turned the plant back on, telling the NRC in a subsequent report that the tube wear was within allowable levels. Federal regulators agreed that the plant was safe to operate, though they noted that the number of wear indications was “much greater” than in other steam generators of similar age.
In 2011, FPL again shut down the reactor and inspected the tubes. The wear had spread.
Affected tubes: 2,978, up 46 percent from 2009.
Worn spots: 8,825, up 51 percent.
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On Jan. 31, 2012, a “high radiation alarm” went off at the San Onofre 3 plant south of Los Angeles.
A tube inside a steam generator had burst, belching irradiated fluid into the containment building. No one was hurt.
The plant went into “rapid power reduction” and shut down, according to NRC documents.
San Onofre 3 had received two new steam generators less than a year earlier. After the leak, inspectors found 1,806 tubes worn in 10,284 places. They also found an unusually high number of worn tubes at the nearby San Onofre 2 plant.
The burst tube had rubbed against another tube, which may explain why it wore out so fast. But, as at St. Lucie, much of the wear to the tubes appeared at the anti-vibration bars.
NOAA Fukushima Radiation Model - What You Were Not Told
The March 22, 2011 NOAA model (above) shows the West Coast of US and Canada covered in red particles, while the Fukushima site — and all of Japan — are under orange particles. According to the NOAA above a “change in particle color represents a decrease in radioactivity by a factor of 10”
Seafood Off N. American Coast Predicted to Exceed Gov’t Radioactivity Limit — “High Priority Looming Threat” to Global Ocean from Fukushima Releases
The Fukushima nuclear emergency […] emerged as a high priority looming threat due to the risk of radioactive contamination in the global ocean and biodiversity. […] we assessed the bioaccumulation potential of 137Cs by testing steady state and time-dependent bioaccumulation models in an offshore food web that included fish-eating, resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) as one of the major top predators of the marine ecosystems in British Columbia, Canada.
Steady State Bioaccumulation Model:
“Concentrations of 137Cs predicted in the male killer whale were approximately three orders of magnitude higher relative to its major prey, Chinook salmon, and > 13,000 times higher compared to phytoplankton.”
MIT Professor & US Experts: Japan “Must Act Now to Seal Fukushima Reactors, Before It’s Too Late” — Concern US to be Affected by “Explosions – A Chain Reaction, Engulfing Reactors One to Four” — “Situation is Dynamically Degrading and Unstable” — Aircraft Can Likely Entomb Plant in 6 Months
South China Morning Post (Subscription Required), Apr. 4, 2014:
Ernst G. Frankel is emeritus professor of ocean engineering at MIT — Jerome A. Cohen is co-director of the US-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School — Julian Gresser is chairman of Alliances for Discovery — Dick Wullaert also contributed to the article.
Abe Must Act Now to Seal Fukushima Reactors, Before it’s Too Late
Dear Prime Minister Abe, the Fukushima crisis is getting worse.
The key assumption […] is that you still have a safe window of time, at least two or three more years, and possibly longer, to deal with Fukushima’s four damaged nuclear reactors
What if this assessment is unrealistically optimistic? What if the safe window of time is less than a year? What if the very concept of a safe window is inappropriate for Fukushima? The fact is, we really don’t know what might happen.
There is a high probability that, if a quake of magnitude 7.9 or above, or some other serious event, strikes Fukushima, a “criticality” will occur.
The least dangerous would be the local release of strontium-90, caesium 134/137, or nano-plutonium.
Far more dangerous would be an explosion, or a series of explosions – a chain reaction, engulfing reactors one to four – that would spew this contamination over much broader areas of helpless populations. The next criticality may be far more serious […]
Up Date on Sea Star Decimation
KPCC (Southern California), Apr. 3, 2014:
A mysterious disease that has been killing massive numbers of sea stars along the West Coast is now firmly entrenched in Southern California […] causing some species to disintegrate and liquify into bacterial goop […] in populations stretching up into Alaska. […] Jayson Smith, a marine conservation ecologist at Cal Poly Pomona […] found 11 sea stars, four of which were exhibiting signs of infection […] the low numbers were actually a welcome sight. “[…] it is positive sign that there are some here, because that’s more than I’ve seen in other places,” […] Smith and his crew found no sea stars at Shaws Cove, a spot where they had previously counted about 400. As bleak as the widespread die-offs have been, some researchers are excited by the research opportunity […]
The Coast News, Apr. 3, 2014 (emphasis added):
[It’s] decimated populations up north, and it recently hit San Diego […] Sea stars along the West Coast are dying en masse. […] “San Diego is just now starting to get hit; the Channel Islands are just now getting hit as well,” said Pete Raimondi […] he expects the disease to keep marching south. [It’s] occurred several times [before, but] associated with El Nino causing warm waters […] Yet we’re currently not in an El Nino. Plus, during past events, the disease moved up the coast with nearshore currents. “That’s very difficult for us to get our heads around, because it’s not a classic movement pattern,” Raimondi said. […] Raimondi said it’s likely something is making the sea stars susceptible to secondary infection from a pathogen or virus. […] Fukushima radiation is extremely unlikely; radiation hasn’t registered above ambient levels. (Still in Denial, apparently.)
Until next time, may you always feel secure in your person, defend justice, and be vigilantly non-violent.