Virginia US Earthquake - Nuclear Plant

A

Argentum Vulpes

Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

I've been water skiing in lake Anna, adjacent North Anna. It is remarkable how un-intrusive a couple GW of nuclear plant is to lake recreation.
So how do you like the lake that wouldn't of been if not for the North Anna NNP?
 

swl

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

So how do you like the lake that wouldn't of been if not for the North Anna NNP?
More, or less than the wildlife, valleys and forests submerged by the lake?
 

mheslep

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

More, or less than the wildlife, valleys and forests submerged by the lake?
Valleys? The lake is 13K acres, mostly shallow and 80' at its deepest. The area is in the Piedmont of Virginia. A large colony of beavers might have accomplished half as much 500 years ago. Still, the lake should be credited to the total area required by the NA plant.
 

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mheslep

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QuantumPion

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NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

nteresting meeting.

Dominion results show that the single values of 0.06g OBE and 0.12g DBE were exceeded at points along the frequency spectrum of the earthquake. Further their CAV limit was also exceeded (I'm goiung to need to look that up).

Based on the nature and number of questions raised by NRC staff, Dominion is going to be hard pressed to get Unit 1 up and running in the immediate future. NRC still has no idea what form of submittal or documentation they will require from ominion as a prerequisite to restart.

Basically Dominion made a case for restart after they complete inspections and surveilance tests based on the following points:

  1. The earthquake was of short duration and the total energy was low compared to what would be seen from a full OBE or DBE earthquake spectrum
  2. The actual event spectrum was at a level where they believe that simple non-commercial structures would have a safety margin factor of 3 before damage to stuctures would be expected.
  3. Industrial buildings and seismically qualified systems structures and components would have even greater margins. Therefor, they would expect no damage.
  4. Their inspections and tests have not detected any functional damage in non-safety or safety systems.
  5. They have seen no damage in non-safety equipment which would be considered at the lowest levels of standards such as building codes that cover domestic plumbing and waste systems. Dominion believes this gives credence to believe there is no hidden damage in safety systems.
  6. Unit 2 is off line for refueling now and will undergo a complete set of physical and surveilance tests for 100% of the systems and a complete civil engineering assesment of the structures. They believe this will allow restart of Unit 1 pending the same level of testing in 2012 during the next refueling outage.

Dominion managemment and NRC management at the table were talking in terms of restarting unit 1 in a matter of weeks or a few months. The staff that asked questions sounded like they were gearing up for a review that could take much longer. The KK plant in Japan actually had visible damage from an earthquake and was off line for years. Several of the NRC technical staff came to the microphone giving out there wishlists for information that sounded like licensing a new plant. North Anna may be held ransom to resolve the GSI-199 issue and the Fukushima lessons learned.

Only one member of the public spoke - Paul Gunther for those who know the intervenors out there. He raised the issue of buried piping.


Did anyone else listen in? What was your take?
 

mheslep

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

...North Anna may be held ransom to resolve the GSI-199 issue and the Fukushima lessons learned...
I can't see how this NRC action can resolve either beyond the specific case of Dominion's North Anna. US new plant construction is dead, and I can't imagine any major NRC action against the existing 104 US plants.
 
Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

I listened for a while although I didn't get many of the jargon (what is level 4 / level 6 status?)
It really sounded to me like there is no damage that would prevent it to go online... one of the important things they proved is that the fuel is undamaged using the chemistry of primary coolant.

There were some issues that were probably not handled very confidently, like they kept on stating that because the non-security related piping was checked and found problem-free then the security related piping was assumed to be problem-free. In an ideal world it makes sense but how about the stress that was in the pipes while earthquake hit?

I also noticed that NRC stated they don't (yet) have a set of requirements for approving online status after a beyond-design-basis event and one of the NRC guys said that the proposed timeline for restarting No1 is too short for them to come up with the proof that No1 can be restarted safely which sounded right to me.

Oh and one more thing - the diesel generator was manually shut down after a coolant leak from a gasket and they felt it's better to shut it down. It is assumed that a torquing technique was misused for that gasket and the other generators didn't exhibit the issue.

Apologies for any mistakes, I was multitasking...
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

I can't see how this NRC action can resolve either beyond the specific case of Dominion's North Anna. US new plant construction is dead, and I can't imagine any major NRC action against the existing 104 US plants.
It happens all the time. NRC is a large group of very smart and educated scientists and engineers. If a staff reviewer has a pet project it can be very difficult to keep them from making a mountain out of a molehill (or in government bureaucracy - an atom into a galaxy). They are very effectively protected by the NRC Differing Professional Opinion process. It goes along with another abusive tactic of "Regulating by Inspection." It is not uncommon for one plant to be forced into taking drastic actions to get a license amendment approved or a restart permission as in the case of North Anna. Once one plant is forced to submit to this blackmail it tends to be easier to force others to fall in step because the "precedent" has been set.

This may sound like sour grapes, but abusive regulation can actually divert attention and resources from other priorities. NRC has not yet concluded the processing of GSI-199 and there is a lot of the cause and lessons from Fukushima that we don't know. I will say for the record that seismic qualification issues needs to be at the top of the priority list, but that may not be good news for North Anna.
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

I listened for a while although I didn't get many of the jargon (what is level 4 / level 6 status?)
It really sounded to me like there is no damage that would prevent it to go online... one of the important things they proved is that the fuel is undamaged using the chemistry of primary coolant.

There were some issues that were probably not handled very confidently, like they kept on stating that because the non-security related piping was checked and found problem-free then the security related piping was assumed to be problem-free. In an ideal world it makes sense but how about the stress that was in the pipes while earthquake hit?

I also noticed that NRC stated they don't (yet) have a set of requirements for approving online status after a beyond-design-basis event and one of the NRC guys said that the proposed timeline for restarting No1 is too short for them to come up with the proof that No1 can be restarted safely which sounded right to me.

Oh and one more thing - the diesel generator was manually shut down after a coolant leak from a gasket and they felt it's better to shut it down. It is assumed that a torquing technique was misused for that gasket and the other generators didn't exhibit the issue.

Apologies for any mistakes, I was multitasking...
Nope, those are good points. I didn't hear "level4/level6", probably because it made sense in context, do you remember anything about what they were discussing?
 
Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

Nope, those are good points. I didn't hear "level4/level6", probably because it made sense in context, do you remember anything about what they were discussing?
I've seen them on a slide, I think unit 2 would be in leve 6 (can't remember when) and unit 1 in level 4 meaning ready to restart.
 

mheslep

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

It happens all the time. NRC is a large group of very smart and educated scientists and engineers. If a staff reviewer has a pet project it can be very difficult to keep them from making a mountain out of a molehill (or in government bureaucracy - an atom into a galaxy). They are very effectively protected by the NRC Differing Professional Opinion process. It goes along with another abusive tactic of "Regulating by Inspection." It is not uncommon for one plant to be forced into taking drastic actions to get a license amendment approved or a restart permission as in the case of North Anna. Once one plant is forced to submit to this blackmail it tends to be easier to force others to fall in step because the "precedent" has been set. ...
Oh? Can you name such an instance? I'm not referring to NRC policy updates are universally mandated all the time but have little cost relative the plant itself. This time we are talking about major seismic upgrades of plants and/or spent fuel storage. Universal implantation of such a policy will force some of the marginal operators to simply close. Since 3-Mile Island, when has there been a similar case?
 

Astronuc

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

It happens all the time. NRC is a large group of very smart and educated scientists and engineers. If a staff reviewer has a pet project it can be very difficult to keep them from making a mountain out of a molehill (or in government bureaucracy - an atom into a galaxy).
Or making a career out of an issue. :uhh:
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

I've seen them on a slide, I think unit 2 would be in leve 6 (can't remember when) and unit 1 in level 4 meaning ready to restart.
OK, now I remember.

They initially kept Unit 1 in hot standby to keep steam driven safety systems available and the steam generators as a cooling path took Unit 2 to cold shutdown. If I recall they took Unit 2 down further because they had to shut down one of the two diesels. They also needed to enter the Unit 2 containment to retrieve the seismic scratch plates. Later when they discovered they had exceeded design basis peak ground acceleration they were required to take Unit 1 to cold shutdown as well.
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

Oh? Can you name such an instance? I'm not referring to NRC policy updates are universally mandated all the time but have little cost relative the plant itself. This time we are talking about major seismic upgrades of plants and/or spent fuel storage. Universal implantation of such a policy will force some of the marginal operators to simply close. Since 3-Mile Island, when has there been a similar case?
Okay, Millstone spent millions of dollars doing a complete reconstitution of instrument setpoints beyond anything eventually appklied to the rest of the licensees because they were under a confirmatory action letter. The entire control room habitability issue a few years ago cost the industry millions of dollars for an issue that was demonstrably of such low risk that it was ridiculous. NRC is holding up license amendments for BWR plants due to concerns over an issue known as "containment overpressure" that they have granted to other plants previously. And now North Anna may have stepped up to take one for the team. I could probably come up with more examples. It is inevitable when there is a difference of opinion whether the safety improvement is really necessay or justified.

Don't misunderstand me, in each of these cases the industry was asked to perform analysis, conduct tests, or modify the plant in a way that was more conservative than previous requirements. But nuclear plants are not research institutes. They are businesses and have customers who need energy at affordable prices and shareholders that deserve a fair return on investment. There is some truth in the old story that an elephant is a mouse that was designed to the Code of Federal Regulations.

These are not anywhere near the kinds of issues like Fukushima ignoring tsunami data or Davis Besse ignoring the boric acid caked on the RPV head or Maine Yankee modify a safety analysis code to get the results they wanted. Those are clear safety issues that must be remedied and also involve non-compliance with existing regulations and maybe even criminal laws. I am talking about arguments that come down to a question of "better" vs "good enough."

And remember, I repeat - seismic qualification is a legitimate high priority. North Anna is in the sights at a time when we don't yet know what needs to be done.
 
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jim hardy

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

""Oh? Can you name such an instance? ""

Long ago in a galaxy far away,,
some agressive NRC staffer got a pet project called "Pressurized Thermal Shock".
He asserted that if a pressurizer were ever allowed to compeltely fill it would fracture from the sudden insurge of cold water.
Soo,,, Three Mile Island's operators were directed to never let their pressurizer fill.
Soo,,, that fateful morning when the pressurizer started to fill
the operator obediently shut off the pump.

The Three Mile Island accident lies squarely on the shoulders of that NRC staffer.

Is that why you asked
"Since 3-Mile Island, when has there been a similar case?"



old jim
 
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mheslep

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

The case I'm looking for is one where the NRC has mandated that all US reactors make an in place plant change costing on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars or more, which a seismic withstand upgrade, or a fuel storage upgrade is likely to require.
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

The case I'm looking for is one where the NRC has mandated that all US reactors make an in place plant change costing on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars or more, which a seismic withstand upgrade, or a fuel storage upgrade is likely to require.
Post 9/11 security, estimates are $2 BILLION.
 
1,045
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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

Post 9/11 security, estimates are $2 BILLION.
[offtopic]Peanuts. 4 (count'em, four) B-2 bombers. Also, why would a national security problem get solved with the money of private companies, isn't that what the military is for?[/offtopic]
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

[offtopic]Peanuts. 4 (count'em, four) B-2 bombers. Also, why would a national security problem get solved with the money of private companies, isn't that what the military is for?[/offtopic]
Most of us have been asking that for over ten years.

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

If you have flown recently and seen TSA in action would you want that group in charge of security, We'd be very well protected if terrorists used grandmothers, nuns, and children for the attack.

There is some evidence that the anti-nuclear lobby believes if they can make nuclear energy more expensive they can get rid of it. Unfortunately it simply increases power costs to customers.

Beyond some point iy is a waste, because the security is already going to make the chance of success unappealing for the terrorists. There are many easier softer targets out there.
 
1,045
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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

Most of us have been asking that for over ten years.

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

If you have flown recently and seen TSA in action would you want that group in charge of security, We'd be very well protected if terrorists used grandmothers, nuns, and children for the attack.

There is some evidence that the anti-nuclear lobby believes if they can make nuclear energy more expensive they can get rid of it. Unfortunately it simply increases power costs to customers.

Beyond some point iy is a waste, because the security is already going to make the chance of success unappealing for the terrorists. There are many easier softer targets out there.
I do not live in the US. This has advantages and disadvantages, in that I am never subjected to the gropings of the erstwhile unemployable (most of Europe actually has professionals working airport security), but I WAS herded without comment or recourse to the new X-ray machine on Schipol. Whenever I pass through airports these days, I think of Domodedovo and nothing else. I am actually less scared of flying commercial than pre-9/11, but more scared of the embarkation line, the security check line, the ticketing line, the taxi line. Sitting ducks.

I hope the TSA is not running the NPP security show, I really do.

Re anti-nuclear activists: those that I know of, at least, do believe exactly that. It's not a bright tactic, but it has potential to work great in the long term, unlike most other accessible ones. Some of these guys eat breathe and sleep leftist/anarchist revolutionary warfare. To them all war is economic war. The rising cost of energy actually plays into their hand. Dissent rises, revolution becomes possible. In the meantime, less people are born and more die because of the higher cost of everything.

Re: the point beyond which security is a waste. Unknown, unknowable. We can make fancy guesses wrt economic efficiency of an attack, speculate on likely threats, but it's all smoke and mirrors. Nuts come in a million flavors.
 

mheslep

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

Post 9/11 security, estimates are $2 BILLION.
$19M/plant. That's far less the seismic hardening might cost.
 

NUCENG

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Re: Virginia US Earthquake -- Nuclear Plant

$19M/plant. That's far less the seismic hardening might cost.
And your point is?

Has this sort of expenditure been applied to other industries? Has parking been moved back from sports stadii by 100 yards? Are bridges and tunnels being fortifird? Does the security force at chemical plants outnumber their operating staff?

The point is that nuclear plants are frequently subjected to costly modifications and that is what you asked for examples. The industry has done what was required and still produces competitive power. My point is simply that NRC has never been afraid to regulate, unlike, Japan, apparently.
 

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