Okay, the headline is an overstatement, but I’m inclined to hyperbole when I don’t have time to post every day. And no, the woman in the wetsuit looking at the Oyster Creek plant is not standing in anything leaked from the plant, at least that I know of.
There were a lot of items on the NRC Event Reports page this week. I’ll start with the three biggest incidents:
1. Wednesday afternoon, the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire declared an Unusual Event and evacuated the lower level of the Administration Building following a sodium hydroxide spill in a store room. At the last report, personnel in SCUBA gear were cleaning up the spill.
2. Tuesday afternoon, a leak in the Safety Water Injection Tank forced a Technical Specification shutdown of the only reactor at the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan. According to the Event Report: “The licensee believes that the tank is leaking from several locations. However, at this time, they cannot determine exact locations. The refueling water has minor tritium contamination.” As of today’s Reactor Status report, Palisades is currently at 0 per cent output.
3. Yesterday morning, a vehicle struck a utility pole outside the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey, causing a loss of offsite power to the plant’s Techncial Support Center. The on-scene Fire Brigade Leader called the local fire department after receiving reports of a smouldering transformer. The Brigade leader made the call because “in his determination, it was an event or situation that was related to the health and safety of the onsite personnel.” Subsequent examination determined that the transformer overheated but did not catch fire. Power was restored to the Technical Support Center after about an hour-and-a-half.
Two plants had problems with their High Pressure Coolant Injection (HPCI) systems:
4. Early Sunday morning, operators conducting a walk-through inspection at the Dresden nuclear power plant in Illinois discovered a leak in a pipe upstream of the High Pressure Coolant Injection for Unit 3. As the result, the HPCI for that reactor was declared inoperable. The incident was reported as “event or condition that at the time of discovery could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of structures or systems that are needed to mitigate the consequences of an accident.”
5. On Wednesday afternoon, operators performing testing at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama determined that a valve serving the Unit 2 reactor “was not capable of performing its intended primary containment isolation valve function.” As a result, the reactor’s HPCI was declared inoperable.
A similar problem sidelined a safety system at another plant:
6. Monday morning, a battery problem knocked out the High Pressure Core Spray (HPCS) system for the Unit 1 reactor at the Perry nuclear power plant in Ohio. According to the report: “HPCS is a single-train safety system and its inoperable status is considered a loss of safety function.” The system was returned to operation after a four hour outage.
Two plants had Fitness for Duty reports this week:
7. Last Friday, one of the contractors doing construction work at the Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina reported that one of its non-licensed employee supervisors had failed a “for-cause” Fitness for Duty screening for alcohol. For-cause tests can be given if there is a construction accident or if there are signs that an employee is visibly impaired. The employee’s site access has been revoked and he was removed from the site.
8. On Monday, an employee at the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant refused to take a random Fitness for Duty. The report does not indicate whether the employee was making a bold personal statement about governmental interference or whether he was so drunk that he had to be sent home in a taxi. (I suppose the two are not mutually exclusive.) In any case, the employee’s site access was terminated.
And finally, there’s this from the Regulating the Regulators file:
9. On Tuesday, the NRC’s Region 1 office in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, finally called off the search for a missing survey instrument check source, which had been missing since May 8. The check source contains 2.64 micro-curies of strontium-90. The Region 1 office says: “The source is believed to have been inside of a metal cabinet that was inadvertently discarded on May 2, 2012, during the removal of excess property in preparation for relocation of the regional office.” I know that moving can be stressful, but it’s not like they misplaced a stapler in transit. The report outlined the course of action taken for the lost strontium-90, as well as measures to see that it doesn’t happen again: “Upon discovery, the Region implemented several immediate actions including: attempts to locate and retrieve the source; confirmation that the remaining instrument check source was properly secured; and, a courtesy notification regarding this issue to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition, a review of this event, consistent with the NRC’s Management Directives, was initiated to identify and implement appropriate follow-up actions to prevent recurrence.”