A couple of items from today’s the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Event Notification Report page:
1. On New Year’s Eve, the Prairie Island nuclear power plant informed the NRC that it had “discovered that multiple upper lateral support shims and bumpers were removed from both … steam generators.” This was discovered as technicians were preparing to restart the Unit 2 reactor following an outage to replace a steam generator.
Discovery of the missing shims and bumpers required that the steam generator loops be declared inoperable and that the reactor be placed in a Technical Specification Limiting Condition of Operations. The deficiency “also placed the Unit 2 Reactor Coolant System in an unanalyzed condition for Seismic and LOCA (Loss of Coolant Accident) analyses.” Further review of the circumstances subsequently caused Prairie Island to have to report to the NRC that both Reactor Coolant Loops (were) inoperable (and) that this condition is a loss of safety function.”
Repairing a nuclear power plant is a little more complicated than installing a Surround Sound stereo system, and I’d like to have some assurance that technicians are following specific written instructions. Surely there is a page in the Operations Manual that says something like: “Step 187b: Put the shims and bumpers back in place.”
2. And the Comedy of Errors continues. Just before midnight Friday, an off-duty employee of Pennsylvania’s Limerick nuclear power plant called the Station Main Control Room to report that the facility’s Emergency Preparedness Zone Siren in Chester County was sounding. Chester County 911 confirmed that the siren going off. According to the Event Report: “The siren maintenance contractor has been contacted to investigate and silence the sounding alarm.” No timeframe for silencing the alarm was mentioned in the report.
Makes me wonder what the conversation was like when the off-duty employee called in to the Control Room:
Mike: “C’mon, Ed, level with me. Is this just another glitch or is there really a problem at the plant?
Ed: “No, no, Mike, everything is fine here. Nothing to worry about.”
Mike: “Look. Don’t give me that ‘The public was never in any danger’ BS. Do I need to get the wife and kids in the car and head upwind or what?”
Ed: “No,no. Everything’s under control.”
Mike: “Well, I’ll take your word for it, buddy. See you at League Bowling tomorrow night?
Ed: (Long pause.) “Yeah, bowling…. See you then, pal.”