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• Reactor status data collected between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day.
• All times are based on eastern time.
• Additional plant status information is made available on the web page after 28 days.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Current Power Reactor Report
FirstEnergy Corp. said an investigation of damage to the concrete outer shell of its Davis-Besse nuclear power plant unearthed additional hairline cracks.
FirstEnergy shut the plant to install a new reactor vessel head three years earlier than previously planned.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2005 imposed a $5.45 million fine, its largest ever, for FirstEnergy’s failure to discover corrosion had eaten a hole in a prior vessel head.
Contractors found the newest cracks on the shield building, a 30-inch-thick (76 centimeters) reinforced concrete structure that protects the reactor’s containment building from wind and tornadoes.
FirstEnergy previously discovered a hairline crack measuring about 30 feet (9 meters) on Oct. 10 after it cut a hole in the side of building to allow for installation of the new vessel head.
Ten weeks after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake knocked a central Virginia nuclear power station offline, the plant’s operator, Dominion Virginia Power, is still waiting for the go-ahead from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the North Anna power plant’s two reactors.
[color=FFF017]“We want to make absolutely certain that there is nothing we haven’t evaluated yet,” said Roger Hannah, an NRC spokesman.
At a public meeting in Mineral, Va., on Tuesday night, an NRC inspector said a decision to restart the reactors could come as early as next week.
“Reviews are in progress. However, the staff has not identified any significant safety concerns resulting” from the earthquake, said Meena Khanna, the NRC’s lead inspector at the facility.
Gerald McCoy, the NRC official overseeing the inspection team, said the NRC directed the company to perform inspections on an underground steam tunnel and on support struts holding up one of the nuclear reactor pressure vessels. [color=Chartreuse]The company had not adequately inspected those areas, McCoy said, but the NRC team found no significant problems.
On Oct. 21, Dominion told the NRC it thought both reactors were safe to restart. The company said it spent more than 100,000 man-hours on inspections, testing and minor repairs, at a total cost of $21 million.
Dominion fixed small cracks in office buildings and replaced part of an electrical transformer that leaked oil after the quake, said Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher.
The company sent small robots into the pool that holds nuclear fuel in the Unit 2 reactor and found no damage to the containment structure or the nuclear fuel, Zuercher said. The company had opened the reactor to refuel it.
[color=Cyan]The NRC told the company it did not need to perform similar inspections inside the Unit 1 reactor, Zuercher said.
The most powerful quake to rattle Virginia in more than a century shook the power plant more than it was designed for in one horizontal direction for 1.5 seconds during the 25-second quake. But extra safety margins in the plant’s structure prevented more than minor damage, Zuercher said.
When operating, North Anna provides 17 percent of Virginia’s electricity.
Zuercher said the company had not decided whether to seek an increase in the rates customers pay to cover the costs of the outage.
North Anna is the first nuclear power plant to shut down after an earthquake in the 53-year history of commercial nuclear power in the United States.
RADIATION WATCH 2011
...Dominion officials said it now appears the reactors shut when the earthquake caused a problem inside the cores at both units rather than from the loss of outside power to the plant as initially reported.
‘[color=Chartreuse]It looks like the (fuel) rods were going into the core prior to the transformer opening,’ possibly from a relay problem, a Dominion executive said.
MINERAL — The North Anna nuclear plant is expected to begin producing electricity again today for the first time since a magnitude-5.8 earthquake shut down its two reactors almost three months ago.
North Anna is likely to begin generating electricity tomorrow for the first time since both reactors at the Louisa County power station were shut down by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Aug. 23...
The review found cracks caused by the 5.8-magnitude quake, which was greater than what the reactors were built to withstand. But the NRC said that it found no functional damage that would prevent the plant from safely restarting.
Some residents disagreed with the findings and said they were “concerned the NRC and Dominion will put profits over safety.”
The memo, from May 1977, was the conclusion of an investigation into whether criminal charges should be brought against VEPCO for concealing this info. It notes that the plant’s original owner, Virginia Electric Power Company, along with engineering contractors the company hired, tried to cover up the fact that a fault had been found under the site in 1970.
The company had already invested $730 million in the plant, and didn’t want the plant’s ability to get a license to operate compromised.
From the memo:
Abandonment of the site would have been intolerable from both a financial and public relations standpoint for all persons involved. In addition, the contemporaneous notes of the VEPCO team are replete with suggestions to “overwhelm the NRC with talent” and prepare “a convincing story.”
[color=Chartreuse]It is deeply disturbing to think that the people entrusted with design and construction of nuclear power plants for the purpose of producing energy for the public actually view the public as adversaries.
Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) — Dominion Resources Inc. found a small crack on a wall with “no safety significance” in a room of a containment building at the North Anna nuclear plant after an Aug. 23 earthquake in Virginia, a company official said.
The fissure was a '[color=3BB9FF]superficial crack in a wall that serves no safety significance,' said Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher.
The 5.8-magnitude earthquake may have caused ground motion that [color=Chartreuse]surpassed the power plant’s design, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Aug. 29.
Dry casks storing radioactive spent fuel also [color=FDD017]shifted from one to four-and-a-half inches in their storage area at the complex, the company said yesterday.
The [color=FFF017]casks may not be returned to their original positions, Daniel Stoddard, the Richmond-based company’s senior vice president for nuclear operations, told reporters today.
The company will complete a damage analysis next week, Stoddard said...
...The casks may not be returned to their original positions
The quake was strong enough to make 17-ton canisters of spent fuel skitter a few inches on their storage pad.
Scientific American...'[color=3BB9FF]Continued operation and continued licensing activities do not pose an imminent risk to public health and safety,' the task force of NRC experts said.
'However, the Task Force also concludes that [color=Chartreuse]a more balanced application of the Commission's defense-in-depth philosophy using risk insights would provide an enhanced regulatory framework that is logical, systematic, coherent and better understood,' according to a summary released by the NRC last night.
The dozen recommendations include:
• Requiring that equipment and procedures are in place to keep reactor cores and spent fuel pools cool for [color=FDD017]at least 72 hours after an emergency, and that backup power is available to run cooling systems for at least eight hours if power from the outside grid or emergency generators is lost in a "station blackout" emergency. [color=3BB9FF]Some U.S. plants have a four-hour backup power capability.
The 72-hour requirement would be new.
• Requiring that emergency plans address accidents involving multiple reactors on the same site. [color=Chartreuse]Current regulations generally center on single-reactor emergencies.
• Adding seismically protected systems and instrumentation to assure continued cooling of spent fuel pools, [color=Salmon]including at least one source of electric power that can operate cooling pumps and instruments at all times.
• Requiring hardened vent designs for Mark I and Mark II reactors, the models at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex where three units suffered explosions tentatively blamed on hydrogen that leaked from vent systems.
• Strengthening regulatory oversight of plant safety "by focusing more attention on defense-in-depth requirements."
The NRC staff is currently reviewing the exemption requests concerning NUHOMS HD-Dry Shielded Canisters being loaded to the incorrect heat load limits at the Surry and North Anna Power Station ISFSIs...
... At the time of loading, [color=Chartreuse]the decay heat limit was exceeded for twelve fuel assemblies.
The twelve fuel assemblies are distributed over the seven identified DSCs...
...In February 1970 the construction excavation wall for Reactor Unit 1 collapsed. A month later, three independent geologists visited the site, [color=3BB9FF]identified a major fault zone, took pictures and reported their finding to Vepco’s resident engineer.
Disregarding this evidence, Vepco representatives who testified before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board later that year omitted any mention of these problems.
Vepco’s comprehensive Safety Analysis report for North Anna stated: [color=Chartreuse]'Faulting at the site is neither known nor suspected.'
Three years later, on May 17, 1973, the Atomic Energy Commission received notification from Vepco about faulting under North Anna. On that same day the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board closed the license hearing record on public comment.
On June 21, 1973 an [color=3BB9FF]Atomic Energy Commission memo confirmed faults beneath all four reactor sites. Inexplicably, in 1974 the Atomic Energy Commission deemed the site acceptable.
On April 1, 1978 the agency granted an operating license to Vepco for North Anna Units 1 and 2, [color=Chartreuse]the only nuclear plants in the nation located on top of a geologic fault...
Another recent report of radioactive manure in California:
UC Berkeley Food Chain Sampling – Dried manure sample, Collected at a farm in Sacramento, collection date 8/16:
Cs134 @ 5.18 Bq/kg (140.4 pCi/kg) Cs137 @ 7.93 Bq/kg (214.9 pCi/kg)
... Many questions remain unanswered about the disaster nine months ago when an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling and power at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Tomoyuki Taira, a Japanese parliamentarian, wrote in a commentary in the journal Nature today...
The legislators, both members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said [color=3BB9FF]it’s particularly important to establish whether self-sustaining reactions are continuing in the damaged cores and [color=FDD017]whether explosions that rocked the station in the days after March 11 were nuclear [color=FDD017]in origin...