Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Power Technology

NRC Engineers Urge Shutdown of Nuclear Plants If Design Flaw Not Fixed (utilitydive.com) 164

mdsolar writes: A group of engineers in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission say they have identified a design flaw in nearly all nuclear reactors in the country that should result in their mandatory shutdown unless operators fix the problem, Reuters reports. In late February, the engineers petitioned the NRC to order immediate enforcement actions to correct the design flaw, which they say could result in damage to cooling systems and ultimately lead to an emergency situation. The filing asks the agency to respond by March 21 and is a part of a standard NRC process, according to the news outlet. The filing stems from an incident in January 2012, when Exelon's Byron 2 unit in Illinois experienced an automatic reactor trip from full power after an undervoltage condition was detected. The unit was shut down for a week, in what is known as an open phase condition created by an unbalanced voltage. The NRC engineers say such an event could cause an electrical short, reducing the abilituy of cooling systems to operate.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NRC Engineers Urge Shutdown of Nuclear Plants If Design Flaw Not Fixed

Comments Filter:
  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2016 @04:05PM (#51638977)

    Why are all these non-stories submitted by mdsolar being approved? They identified a possible flaw and recommended a fix. Nothing to see here, move on.

    • "If it bleeds it leads." Fear, fear, bacon fear.

    • by NMBob ( 772954 )
      So where *are* all the hipster party nerds going since Slashdot is starting to circle around the drain? It is getting kinda commercial around here...
    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      No, a flaw was identified in 2012 that ALREADY forced 1 plant into an emergency situation and is also present in nearly all other nuclear reactors. This flaw HAS NOT been fixed, nor does the regulator have any interest in getting it fixed. The engineering group is now petitioning the NRC to force all plant operators to fix it or face closure. THAT is the story here.
      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@@@earthlink...net> on Friday March 04, 2016 @05:16PM (#51639521)

        Yeah. Simply amazing all the anonymous cowards posting that his is not a story.

        Nuclear power has four big problems:
        1) It's expensive
        2) It's complicated
        3) It's dangerous
        4) It's managed to create short-term profit.

        The other problems are derivative of those. They exist, and they are severe, but they can be handled. And the main problem of the 4 big ones is number 4...though that would be less of a problem without the other three. And profit shouldn't only be calculated in dollars, but should also include such things as political power and centralized control.

        • The other problems are derivative of those. They exist, and they are severe, but they can be handled.

          So far, only the first of these problems ever seems to get handled properly.

          And the main problem of the 4 big ones is number 4...though that would be less of a problem without the other three.

          Yeah, it would, but you can't just wave that away! If your plan isn't resistant to human actors acting in poor faith, then your plan is bad.

          And profit shouldn't only be calculated in dollars, but should also include such things as political power and centralized control.

          Those are drawbacks, not benefits.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Take your pick:

      a.) Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
      b.) Meet the new boss, they weren't informed buyers and haven't worked out that mdsolar is a paid shill yet.
      c.) Some of the above.
      d.) All of the above.

    • Yep I have been wondering the same thing. A lot of new things, "news for nerds", are happening on the nuclear industry, next generation designs are approved and soon built. 90's and 00's slashdot would have published those stories. I think eco-hipster coup happened at some time and now this is the new "green slashdot" where nuclear is evil, no matter what. What a pity.

      • Not quite: slashdotters (at least those over the age of 30) tend to be smarter than that. Calling us anti-nuke is ignorant and simplistic. These conventional reactor designs (that can go critical without active cooling) need to be replaced with thorium salt and pebble-bed designs... and the beancounters and bureaucrats keeping us "safe" (thank you, regulatory capture) replaced with proper engineers.
  • Oooo this is bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 )
    In short, the catastrophic problems at both Chernobyl and at Fukushima Daiichi, despite different reactor designs, were coolant/steam problems. In Chernobyl's case steam voids within the graphite-moderated core caused the pressure to grow to the point it blew-off the upper biological shield, exposing the reactor core and blowing chunks of it out into the environment. In Fukishima Daiichi's case, as temperatures grew steam formed and also hydrogen and oxygen were separated-out from water, so steam and hydr
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Geez. This passes for +5 insightful? Until he posted I didn't realize that cooling the reactor was so important. I'll notify the media.
      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        I'm sure MDSolar would get your story posted to Slashdot.

        Breaking news: Nuclear Reactors may experience trouble if not properly cooled!
    • Re:Oooo this is bad (Score:5, Informative)

      by kellymcdonald78 ( 2654789 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @04:59PM (#51639411)
      Chernobyl had nothing to do with a coolant problem (unless you mean in generic terms that it's coolant system wasn't designed to handle a power excursion in excess of 10 times its rated capacity). While steam voids caused reactor #4 to become extremely unstable, it was the additional graphite moderator located on the bottom of the control rods when they finally decided to shut things down, that caused the reactor to go prompt critical. It went from a few MW of power to 30GW in a fraction of a second. This is what blew the reactor apart, and no coolant system would have made a difference
      • Re:Oooo this is bad (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @05:12PM (#51639493) Journal

        Not only that, but the RBMK units at Chernobyl use a positive void coefficient - if there are voids in the coolant, it speeds up the reaction. Thus, a loss of coolant causes a runaway problem. This was one of the MANY problems that stacked up to create the Chernobyl disaster.

        Every single licensed commercial reactor in the US uses a negative void coefficient, so if you have a loss of coolant, the reaction shuts down. If you can't get coolant back onto the fuel, you might end up with some melt, but it will stay contained (Three Mile Island) rather than EXPLODING and showering radioactive debris over hundreds of miles.

        • by Maow ( 620678 )

          Every single licensed commercial reactor in the US uses a negative void coefficient, so if you have a loss of coolant, the reaction shuts down. If you can't get coolant back onto the fuel, you might end up with some melt, but it will stay contained (Three Mile Island) rather than EXPLODING and showering radioactive debris over hundreds of miles.

          Weren't the Fukushima reactors by Westinghouse, and of American design?

          If that's so, how did they get significant melt that breached containment at the bottom of the reactors?

          Also worth noting tangentially, they did have explosions and corium was dispersed and radioactive material also get dispersed, I think over hundreds of miles (probably mostly ocean but across the main island too).

          Would be interested in having the above clarified if anyone has more knowledge and maybe some links.

          • Weren't the Fukushima reactors by Westinghouse, and of American design?

            And we have numerous reactors here in the USA which are highly similar, and six which are identical [nbcnews.com]. So don't believe the hype, use google. I did.

          • Yes, they did have a meltdown due to loss of the cooling required to remove decay heat after the reaction has stopped. Tjernobyl however went prompt critical and the containment vessel (such as it was, i.e. not really) exploded. That's a much worse scenario that Fukushima.

            Yes, they did have explosions at Fukushima, that did release radioactive material into the atmosphere, but that wasn't from the reactor exploding proper. That was from loss of cooling melting the fuel rods, making them so hot they stripped

            • by Maow ( 620678 )

              Interesting post - thank you.

              Anything you can enlighten us with regarding CanDu reactors?

              That's what we have around here - "here" being Canada, but there aren't any within 4,000 km from here.

              • Well I looked it up, and CANDU are run with with a positive void coefficient, which is bad. But since the people behind the CANDU reactor design realised this, they put in passive design elements to counter this. The thermal mass of the coolant is such that boiling takes a long time. And another interesting feature is that since it's a heavy water moderated reactor, cooling it (even in a makeshift emergency scenario) with light water will not add to the reactivity.

                That said, even though it has some interest

          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            Every single licensed commercial reactor in the US uses a negative void coefficient, so if you have a loss of coolant, the reaction shuts down. If you can't get coolant back onto the fuel, you might end up with some melt, but it will stay contained (Three Mile Island) rather than EXPLODING and showering radioactive debris over hundreds of miles.

            Weren't the Fukushima reactors by Westinghouse, and of American design?

            If that's so, how did they get significant melt that breached containment at the bottom of the

  • mdsolar again (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Gee, it's mdsolar and his anti-nuclear rants again.

    I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Prune ( 557140 )
      Please sign in and post this with your account. If there is to be any hope of the site operators taking action to contain his trolling, enough of us need to complain, and Anonymous Cowards don't count.
  • Overblown (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Unsurprisingly, mdsolar is posting this as soon as possible, because he has a hard on for hating on solar power. They've had a whole 96 hours to think about this. The world is going to end! OMG! They're not doing anything.

    I'll just ignore this for a while because, frankly, this is way too early to give a crap.

    FWIW, the 2012 incident didn't do anything anyone but a solar panel hugging, nuke hating asshole would care about, either. It will be corrected, but as far as emergencies go, this one isn't one be

    • by Prune ( 557140 )
      Please sign in and post this with your account. The site operators won't take action to contain his trolling unless enough of us complain, and Anonymous Cowards don't count.
    • by Maow ( 620678 )

      Unsurprisingly, mdsolar is posting this as soon as possible, because he has a hard on for hating on solar power. They've had a whole 96 hours to think about this. The world is going to end! OMG! They're not doing anything.

      Great logic: mdsolar is biased towards solar power, therefore ignore the engineers at the NRC... because mdsolar... biased...

      I'll just ignore this for a while because, frankly, this is way too early to give a crap.

      FWIW, the 2012 incident didn't do anything anyone but a solar panel hugging, nuke hating asshole would care about, either.

      You'll ignore it because you're a possibly biased, "nuke loving asshole" perhaps, but thankfully the engineers at NRC aren't ignoring it.

      It will be corrected, but as far as emergencies go, this one isn't one because it has happened 13 times in the past 14 years and... nothing of consequence happened. It will happen one more time before it's fixed and... nothing of consequence will happen. It went unnoticed for several weeks and... nothing of consequence happened.

      Logic failure: "I rolled no 6 for the last 6 rolls, so I'll take needless risks, self-assured that I'll not roll a six for a long time."

      But, because nuclear safety is taken seriously (unlike employee safety when installing solar panels) this will be corrected quickly and without incident.

      I didn't realize that workmen's safety compliance was waived for solar installations - can you provide a link for

  • Nuclear accounts for approximately 20% of the power generated in the US. How, pray tell, does the NRC plan to replace this generation capacity?

    Oh wait, it's mdsolar, all nuclear is bad and we live in a happy slappy unicorn world where the consequences don't matter. It's a non-story regarding a minor problem that somebody wants to blow out of proportion, because NUCLEAR EVIL.

    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      MDSolar and his crowd are preparing lawsuits as we speak so 3 years from now he can cite the millions of dollars spent defending frivolous suits as why Nuclear is too expensive.

    • Nuclear accounts for approximately 20% of the power generated in the US. How, pray tell, does the NRC plan to replace this generation capacity?

      It will be cheaper to fix the flaw than to shut down and fixing is an option.

      • It will be cheaper to fix the flaw than to shut down and fixing is an option.

        I'm not sure about 'cheaper'. The plants are all roughly 40 years old at this point, and this is only being discovered 'now'? That would tend to indicate a low probability event.

        Though yes, I'm sure that as the knowledge of the problem is disseminated, the relevant engineers will design fixes, to be deployed during the next appropriate maintenance cycle.

        Said engineering is actually some of the problem - Because nearly every plant is, at this point, unique, the engineering for each is also unique, and ther

    • They won't be replacing anything. These engineers petitioned the NRC all of 3 days ago. The NRC hasn't ruled on anything yet. And, should they put in some kind of regulation for this to be fixed (and they should), the operators will fix it the next time they are shut down for maintenance. And nothing of consequence will happen at all. The world keeps turning, and these reactors keep boiling water.

  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @04:30PM (#51639187)
    So the bird poop don't get in...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I believe that there may be an issue that needs to be addressed. But the hyperbole? Nah. If this flaw has been around for all this time without being triggered, it's probably overkill to call for such an extreme response. How about maybe a "we need to fix this reasonably soon" reaction instead?

  • mdsolar (Score:4, Informative)

    by Prune ( 557140 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @04:43PM (#51639283)
    As soon as I saw the word "nuclear" in the subject, I knew who the submitter was.

    For those new around here, mdsolar is Slashdot's long-time anti-unclear troll, so I'm posting this as a forewarning to you. His posting history shows he regularly contributes anti-nuclear articles, and when he gets told, he typically resorts to personal attacks on those he disagrees with. If you're not interested in going down this path, the best option is just to ignore him. As they say: don't feed the trolls. Now if we could only get the powers-that-be here to ignore his submissions...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Socguy ( 933973 )
      Safe to ignore if you don't like the messenger eh?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        It's safe to ignore calls that the sky is falling, if the person screaming it is indeed Chicken Little. Yes.

      • I've always felt an advocate should be more critical of the cause he is advocating than the average lay person. Presumably he is more knowledgeable about whatever it is he is advocating, and thus able to see more of the flaws, problems, and drawbacks than the average lay person. If someone only posts in favor of what they are advocating while only critical of alternatives, they are merely advocating their bias, not the cause.

        That's why I'll often ask people arguing for something to do their best to arg
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Good point, for another example ask someone about nuclear waste disposal and it's a good measure if they are a clueless fanboy or actually know something about the topic. "Iz awl fuel dawg" shows a total lack of understanding but sadly seems to be the default level of discussion around here. If they don't know about low level waste (a problem that isn't hard to deal with but is not something that can be used for fuel) then they know little or nothing about nuclear energy other than a gut feel that it is g
          • Waste disposal? Easy... build breeder reactors and process it into more fuel. Anything that can't be processed into more fuel, tell the NIMBYs to go pound sand and put it in Yucca Mountain. (Also, store it there until the breeder reactors are built.) It's not as if it's actually in anyone's "backyard" anyway. No one is going to be building the next Las Vegas in the Nevada Test Site. And if weather patterns don't change and get the Colorado River adequately flowing again, Las Vegas may not even be in L

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              Yucca mountain is a bit wet for storing vitrified waste or waste in drums but there are other places and synroc avoids the moisture problem completely.
              The other problem with Yucca mountain is casino NIMBYs with utterly insane amounts of political power.

              I also suggest you look at the Harford website about reprocessing into MOX - a bit of a better idea than expensive 1960s fast breeders that were a dead end and could use hardly any of the waste anyway. The Indians have a breeder reactor design that shows a
    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      As soon as I saw the word "nuclear" in the subject, I knew who the submitter was.

      And I knew that anyone expressing doubt about the value of nuclear power would be attacked.

      For those new around here, mdsolar is Slashdot's long-time anti-unclear troll, so I'm posting this as a forewarning to you.

      For those new around here you'll find that the articles mdsolar post are accurate and good sources of information from actual scientists and engineers.

      Unclear power - thats an interesting characterization of Nucl

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        I have read many of mdsolars posts and have only seen him *being* trolled

        A clueless fanboy's definition of a troll is any mention of their pet topic that contains something other than high praise.
        I wish they would actually learn abut their pet topics and become fanboys with a clue instead, it would cut down on the meaningless noise.

        • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          I have read many of mdsolars posts and have only seen him *being* trolled

          A clueless fanboy's definition of a troll is any mention of their pet topic that contains something other than high praise. I wish they would actually learn abut their pet topics and become fanboys with a clue instead, it would cut down on the meaningless noise.

          So true, most argue without facts and have nothing much to offer.

    • Nuclear power does great in military propulsion at sea. It does very poorly in civilian electric generation. As we've seen, it produces catastrophic accidents, produces waste that we don't know how to manage, and is very much more expensive than anything else. But at sea, it may solve even more logistics issues going forward, strongly enhancing national security.
  • ...and it's apparently a standard in all of the nuclear reactors in the country, only one of which had one single event. Which didn't do any actual damage.

    Yeah, I'm going to go with "this isn't that big of a problem in reality" for $1000, Alex.

    • by fhage ( 596871 )
      I just read the NRC report, linked in TFA.

      The NRC report documents 2 events at Byron Station Unit 1. There were also events at South Texas, Unit 2, Beaver Valley Power Station, Unit 1, Nine Mile Point, Unit 1 , and James A. Fitzpatrick Power Plant in the US, and Bruce Power Plant in Canada, Forsmark Unit 3 in Sweden, and Dungeness B power plant in UK. Some faults took several weeks to detect because the power source was not used during normal plant operation.

      At Byron Station where the open phase h

      • So we're actually back to 1 near miss for this fault. 1 near miss in 10s of thousands of operating years across reactors in America.

        Give the man his $1000 back.

  • Excellent! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @04:57PM (#51639397)

    The same blog notes a continuing problem with slack operations at the Springfield plant. Because of its hiring of two-dimensional yellow employees with diminished concern about safety and a poor diet, closure of the local Lard Lad franchise and alcoholism awareness training for all employees was recommended. Video of high-level waste being accidentally brought home in an employee's car and being tossed out onto a public street when discovered was submitted to the NRC in evidence.

  • Allowing idiots to marshal public sentiment and essentially destroy the nuclear power industry in the US. Had this not been allowed to happen, most of these plants would be gone and we'd be on to newer, safer generations of power plants by now.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      The nuclear industry only has itself to blame. See the lobbying AGAINST the thorium experiment a few years back as an example. They are not a force for progress, they are rent seekers sitting on 1970s technology and fighting change.
      If we want something modern in a few years time we are going to have to buy it from China or Russia and be opposed by the nuclear lobby at every step.
      • by Chas ( 5144 )

        The nuclear industry only has itself to blame.

        Yeah, that's bullshit first to last.

        I'm not saying that the industry itself is blameless.

        I'm just saying that it having ONLY itself to blame is crap.

        People have been getting indoctrinated into the "Nuclear = BOMBZ!" cult for most of the last 70 years.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          I'm just saying that it having ONLY itself to blame is crap

          True there are also the banks and the Republican Party being mostly owned by the oil industry, especially foreign owned portions of the oil industry. And there are others. ONLY was a poor choice but the nuclear lobby has turned into rent seekers and the nuclear industry has eaten it's own children. The only hopes of advancement come from outside, hopefully military spinoffs but even those are more likely to be developed offshore than in the USA.

  • Be a nuke fanboy as much as you want, or solar or wind, but if you scream about "one true energy" and attack all the others you are evangelizing failure.
  • You'd report it and the electrician's permits and licences would be revoked and all past work inspected. This is a mind bogglingly stupid error.

A man is known by the company he organizes. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...