(Just a note on the above illustration: It’s from a gallery of Power Plant Trading Cards at: http://www.industcards.com/. I don’t make this stuff up, I just make fun of it.)
Some items from this week’s NRC Event Reports page:
1. On Tuesday afternoon, during an inspection of one of the diesel generators for Unit 1 of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant in Minnesota “a small candle sized flame was identified at the exhaust manifold” of Diesel Generator 1. As per procedure, the fire in Generator 1 required the reactor to enter a Limiting Condition for Operations while technicians determine whether the fire resulted from a common cause failure that would also affect Generator 2. Apparently, that was a valid concern. “At 0312 CDT, the Shift Manager reported a small candle sized fire on the exhaust manifold for D2.” Both generators were then declared inoperable.
With both diesel generators out of service, Reactor 1 entered a Technical Specification shutdown. As of this morning’s Reactor Status Report, Unit 1 is now at 0 per cent output while Prairie Island’s operators try to figure out why both of its diesel generators caught fire. I have another question: With both generators literally on fire, why wasn’t the reactor scrammed (shut down immediately), rather than ramped down in a process that can take up to 36 hours?
2. As a counter-example, operators at the Point Beach nuclear power plant in Wisconson scrammed the Unit 1 reactor on Tuesday night in anticipation of a turbine trip after “noticing the turbine governor valves closing in response to an Electro-Hydraulic Control System signal.” Point Beach Unit 1 is apparently ramping back up this morning, as it is listed at 28 per cent output on this morning’s Reactor Status Report.
3. Thursday afternoon, Reactor 2 at the Sequoyah nuclear power plant in Tennessee experienced an automatic shutdown following a failure of one Reactor Coolant Pump. The unit is at 0 per cent output this morning, and investigation of the cause of the reactor pump failure is ongoing.
4. And the Waterford nuclear power plant in Louisiana reported that a licensed employee supervisor had a confirmed positive test for alcohol during a random Fitness for Duty screening this week. The supervisor will no longer be allowed to wander unescorted around the nuclear facility, staggering and shouting bizarre orders in a slurred voice….