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Nuclear Meltdown In Motown?

The Drudge Report hasn't busted out the red siren, but they do have a link to a report of a nuclear plant incident in Michigan. The full story from Detroit Edison is provided below.

NEWPORT, Mich., Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Detroit Edison plant operators shut down the Fermi 2 reactor about 4:20 p.m. today after discovering that cooling water was leaking into the containment structure, a steel and concrete structure that surrounds the steel reactor vessel. Plant operators have preliminarily determined the leakage to be from non-radioactive cooling water.

There is no indication of a radioactive release. Reactor coolant water is being maintained at normal levels and plant safety systems are functioning normally. The leak rate is approximately 50 gallons per minute.

Plant personnel are managing plant systems and plant status. It is expected that workers will be able to enter the area of the plant to locate the source of the leak early Tuesday. Once the source is identified, repair plans will be developed.

The Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant is a 1,140-megawatt boiling water reactor owned and operated by Detroit Edison, an electric utility serving more than 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan.

That's a lot of water, but the containment structure is capable of holding hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid.


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Comments (20)

I think more than anything,... (Below threshold)

I think more than anything, this says "See, they can even make nuclear power safe in Detroit."

A lot of us younguns don't even remember 3 Mile Island. We only read about it in books.

Well, when oil reaches $70/barrel I guess we'll start building nuke plants again.

My goodness! Nuclear reacto... (Below threshold)
julie:

My goodness! Nuclear reactors, geological surveys, gl*bal w*rming . . . you should rename this site Scientific Wizbang!

Anyway, I'm still waiting for a scientific explanation on how the girl is going to keep that prom dress up.

Safety Safety Safety!... (Below threshold)

Safety Safety Safety!

Thats the number one thing that I've had drilled into my head from my engineering design classes. Safety factors, and margins of safety.

Even if it had been the primary coolant (the water that acts as the primary coolant for the controlled chain reaction) been the liquid that leaked, it leaked into a containment vessel. The exact same reason why ships are built with double hulls now, if the outer hull is breached, there is still the inner hull that can withstand the pressure.

So, Henry, what you are rea... (Below threshold)
julie:

So, Henry, what you are really saying is no pepsi in the control rooms of nuclear reactors? (Think old SNL skit.)

Maybe we should start calli... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Maybe we should start calling it:

Modowntown.

Anyway, I'm still waitin... (Below threshold)

Anyway, I'm still waiting for a scientific explanation on how the girl is going to keep that prom dress up.

Duct Tape.

Incidently, that's also how... (Below threshold)

Incidently, that's also how they're going to fix that reactor...

Nobody remembers Fermi 1 an... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Nobody remembers Fermi 1 any more, I guess.

That was the experimental breeder reactor built in the 1960s in Detroit, made famous in the book "We Almost Lost Detroit" (a frighteningly accurate title, unfortunately).

Instead of water, Fermi 1 was cooled with liquid sodium, and had coolant problems (a piece of zirconium that was intended as a safety measure got loose and blocked the coolant exhaust port in the core, nearly causing a meltdown). They also had a sodium leak/explosion before the plant was shut down in 1972

Growing up in the shadow of... (Below threshold)

Growing up in the shadow of Fermi, I've heard all the jokes - and usually they were made only half-seriously. The cooling towers send off white plumes that dominate the sky from pretty much anywhere. The first Wednesday (I think - been a while since I have been back) of every month is the tornado/accident siren test day, an event that is shocking if you forget the day.

No one forgets Fermi 1 back home.

Cirby, all breeder reactors... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Cirby, all breeder reactors use liquid sodium to cool them. The temperatures they operate at are too hot for water to be effective as a coolant.

I think only a few breeder reactors have been built. It a great concept. You end up with more fuel than you started... But ultimately not economical since there's so much cheap enriched uranium floating around with all the decommisioned nuclear warheads.

I think this story just shows that all the safety and containment measures are working effectively. Anybody know how long Fermi 2 has been online? Most of our reactors are getting pretty old, but they are finding that their original 30 year projected lifespan was pretty conservative. Now they're all applying for extensions.

Accidents like this causes ... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Accidents like this causes global warming, so maybe it is our fault. We just have to adjust to the new timetable of our earth.

Cindy

Anybody understand what Cin... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Anybody understand what Cindy is trying to say?

This problem described in this story is basically no big deal. They have a problem with a pipe or a vessel of some sort and they spilt a lot of water on the floor. Older factories deal with problems like this all the time. This is only news because it happened at a "NUCLEAR POWER PLANT". Like I said before, this story shows that their safety and containment measures are working the way they are supposed to. If any kind of radioactive material had escaped, it would be front page national news. Instead, the story is that they spilled some water on the floor. All things nuclear interest me, but basically this is no big deal.

Maybe I should clarify my c... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Maybe I should clarify my comments a bit. I would imagine that they have pumps in place removing the water just as fast as it's coming out. Plus every thing in plants like this has multiple redundencies. If they have to take the reactor offline to fix this, that will give us a better idea of the scope of the problem. My guess from the story is that it's not that big of a problem.

Ok, this site really needs ... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Ok, this site really needs an EDIT button for comments. Now, I read in the very first line of the story that the reactor is offline. Still I'm thinking, "excess of caution".

Ok, this site really nee... (Below threshold)
julie:

Ok, this site really needs an EDIT button for comments.

Oh, they already got one. It's called PREVIEW.
(I feel your pain.)

I live in the Detroit metro... (Below threshold)
LarryA:

I live in the Detroit metro area and haven't started glowing......yet

8-D

Something like that julie ;... (Below threshold)

Something like that julie ;-)

Come on guys, let's get a g... (Below threshold)
Sherard:

Come on guys, let's get a grip, ok ? Why don't you ask someone who might know about such things ? I work at one of these horrid plants (yikes!) and a) I haven't heard a peep about this, but b) just from the TINY description here, I can tell you exactly what this is - out Tech Specs have a limit on both identified (piped to equipment drains) and unidentified leakage inside containment (winds up in the containment sump. These limits are on the order of 5 gallons per minute. This number is tiny, relatively speaking, and when you find leakage like this, about 99% of them are valve packing leaks.

There couldn't be a more benign plant shutdown. I know of at least 3 that I've seen in my own experience.

I don't know, but the right (of which I consider myself a member) seems to be pro-nuclear. Going all siren hype on something so lame is not going to help the cause.

Who went all siren hype? Ev... (Below threshold)
julie:

Who went all siren hype? Even Drudge did post the red siren.

Make that: Even Drudge didn... (Below threshold)
julie:

Make that: Even Drudge didn't post the red siren.

[See, Jon, I do feel your pain!]




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