Archive for June, 2011

Another Nuclear Disaster threat for the US-Los Alamos fire

It’s time to wake up to the fact that nuclear power has limitations that we have not dealt with as a community that shares the resources of the earth. Fukushima, natural disasters threatening 3 nuclear power reactors in the US, and now the Los Alamos wildfire. There’s a message here.

Updates on the Los Alamos lab fire can be found at this link. (no longer being updated as of 7/1/11). Updates on  New Mexico fires can be found here.

RACER monitoring for radiation around LANL here.

Las Conchas fire inciweb report here.

Dramatic photos of the fires here  and here showing photos of forests burning and aftermath

Los Alamos stores 20,000  PLUTONIUM waste barrels in the equivalent of TENTS!

From Glenn Walp, Los Alamos former top security official speaking of the threat there:

“The Los Alamos facility — the birthplace of the atomic bomb — was shrouded in secrecy long before it was surrounded by smoke after the Las Conchas fire began Sunday.

“It contains approximately 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste,” former top security official Glen Walp, said. “It’s not contained within a concrete, brick and mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume.

“Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas,” he added.

from the abcnews website article by Ryan Owens 6/29/11

Glenn Walp served with the Pennsylvania State Police for nearly 29 years, retiring as commissioner and a member of the governor’s cabinet. Walp has appeared as a guest on multiple national television programs, including The O’Reilly Factor, and CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn. Here is an excerpt from the  book he wrote  about his investigations at Los Alamos. Implosion at Los Alamos

Crime and Cover-Ups

In February 2009, National Nuclear Security Administration officials released more alarming news. The officials sent a letter to Los Alamos Director Michael Anastasio, chastising the Los Alamos laboratory for failure “to conclusively determine control of special nuclear material as there is no reconciliation of the physical inventory that includes calculation and evaluation of the ID (inventory difference).” The officials stated that this failure “exceeded alarm limits,” and the items of the inventory included huge stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium – enough for the making of hundreds of nuclear weapons.

LOTS AND LOTS OF PLUTONIUM in other areas of plant

They stockpile, reprocess, process and collect for disposal huge amounts. It is considered a center of excellence for plutonium research, development and manufacturing. From a Los Alamos nuclear publication website:

“Under NNSA’s proposed preferred alternative, Los Alamos will maintain its role as the center of excellence for nuclear weapons design and engineering, and plutonium research, development, and manufacturing. As the nuclear weapons program becomes smaller as part of the NNSA weapons complex transformation, Los Alamos’ Stockpile Manufacturing and Support (SMS) Directorate must maintain the breadth of capabilities that support stockpile stewardship and nuclear deterrence while also producing innovative discoveries that will lead to new missions in plutonium science and engineering. Plutonium processing will be a key component of the Los Alamos mission for the foreseeable future.

Virtually all plutonium operations at Los Alamos occur within the Plutonium Facility at Technical Area 55. It is the nation’s most modern plutonium facility, consisting of a 75,000-square-foot building that is built to withstand 200-mile-per-hour tornadic winds and any credible seismic event. TA-55, as the facility is commonly called, opened in 1978.

The work at TA-55 supports a wide range of national programs, such as stockpile stewardship, nuclear materials stabilization, materials disposition, nuclear forensics, nuclear counter-terrorism, and nuclear energy. Each of these programs revolves around plutonium. In stockpile stewardship, for example, pure plutonium metal is used to manufacture nuclear-weapon pits or to conduct experiments related to maintenance of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. The materials disposition program recovers plutonium from decommissioned weapons and processes it for eventual disposal or for burning as mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.”

quoted from  Actinide Research Quarterly (ARQ),3rd quarter 2008 a publication of the Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science in the Stockpile Manufacturing and Support (SMS) Directorate.


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Disaster Threatening Cooper Nuclear plant in US

You can listen to assurances from the experts, and continue to think all is well with the Nuclear plants in Nebraska threatened by the Mississippi floods. You can also look for yourself. I recommend a combination of both for balance. Two graphics to assist you are noted below from official sources.

The Mississippi is threatening the Cooper Nuclear power plant in Nebraska. This plant has the same type of Boiling Water reactor as the ones involved in the Fukushima disaster. Here is the latest river gauge measure as of 7AM today from the National Weather Service. (Link )  The chart that follows that is from the Nebraska Public Power District website.

These charts below update automatically.

Missouri River at Brownville

and today, from the NPPD website  about safety measures at the plant are graphed

The Cooper nuclear reactor is a General Electric Mark 1 BWR/4 series reactor plant with the same containment system as 5 of the 6  Fukushima reactors.  More detail can be found here: Open Channel at msnbc

GE’s Mark I containment system.

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nuclear plant safety-??

This information about recent nuclear “events” at nuclear reactor sites in the US  is compiled from the NRC website, Scientific American, and other sources.  Information taken from the NRC is in red. My comments are in black.  I will continue to add information and commentary over time. Newer info at the top.


6/25/11 Hi res pics of Calhoun Plant

(looks like they are from 6/20) and some spent fuel cask explanations, pics and diagrams on this site

6/23/11 Q&A from with NPPD and OPPD

More safety questions addressed about both Calhoun and Cooper in this article.

6/17/11 rumor control from the NRC public blog here.

Reasons for the No Fly Zone are clarified on this entry and also the steps taken as of June 16 to help insure the Calhoun plant safety from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s public blog. NRC public blog.

6/15/11 FT Calhoun Nuclear Plant Flooding and NOTA- NO FLY Zone

As the Missouri River continues to rise, this picture shows a plant that looks to be just a few sandbags short of major disaster.

The Calhoun reactor has been shut down since April for refueling. On June 7th,  a fire at the plant knocked out it’s ability to cool it’s spent fuel pools. After 90 minutes, cooling ability was restored. A Scientific American article about the incident can be found on this link.

A No Fly Zone was established above this flooding plant the same day. Reason given? HAZARDS-until further notice. This is apparently standard procedure in case of a fire at a nuclear plant. The FAA- NOTA report can be found at this link.  The question remains though, why is it still in effect with the fire out days ago?

OPPD, the operator of  the plant, addresses rumors about it on their website here.From their vantage point, everything is safe. Take a look at that picture in high res, and see if you agree.

Up to date river gauge graphic at Blair above Fort Calhoun on the Missouri.

Missouri River near Blair

A flood/event calculator for another Nebraska nuclear power station- Cooper, can be found at the NPPD website here.

update 6/1711: NRC event notification for Fort Calhoun. They are keeping a very close on this and rightly so!

Power Reactor Event Number: 46965
Region: 4 State: NE
Unit: [1] [ ] [ ]
RX Type: (1) CE
Notification Date: 06/16/2011
Notification Time: 14:46 [ET]
Event Date: 06/16/2011
Event Time: 12:30 [CDT]
Last Update Date: 06/16/2011
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
50.72(b)(3)(ii)(B) – UNANALYZED CONDITION
50.72(b)(3)(v)(D) – ACCIDENT MITIGATION
Person (Organization):
Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
1 N N 0 Cold Shutdown 0 Cold Shutdown

Event Text

ADDITIONAL PENETRATION IDENTIFIED FOR MITIGATION DURING WALKDOWN “Operations identified a potential flooding issue in the Intake Structure 1007 ft. 6 in. level. The area of concern is a the hole in the floor at the 1007 ft. 6 in. level where the relief valve from FP-1A discharge pipe goes through the raw pump bay and discharges into the intake cell. There is one penetration of concern. Flooding through this penetration could have impacted the ability of the station’s Raw Water (RW) pumps to perform their design accident mitigation functions. “Efforts are in progress to seal the penetration. “This eight-hour notification is being made pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72 (b)(3)(v).” The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

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Power Reactor

6/7/11-Too Hot and trouble? Now that could never happen, right?

The  event below took place  during a record heat wave across the US. Essentially,  it was too hot  outside for the back-up generators to run if they were needed. In other words, if something had happened, say flooding or fire or power interruptions to the plant that required backup power to cool the reactor or spent fuel ponds,  there would be none. The temperature of the air was above 100F and the back-up diesel generators used to power the plant in emergencies are inoperable above that temperature. The temp peaked at 101.4

Power Reactor Event Number: 46934
Region: 3 State: MN
Unit: [1] [ ] [ ]
RX Type: [1] W-2-LP,[2] W-2-LP
Notification Date: 06/07/2011
Notification Time: 17:43 [ET]
Event Date: 06/07/2011
Event Time: 13:49 [CDT]
Last Update Date: 06/07/2011
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
BOTH EMERGENCY DIESEL GENERATORS DECLARED INOPERABLE DUE TO EXCESS OUTSIDE AMBIENT AIR TEMPERATURE “Outside ambient air temperature exceeded the maximum analytical value for operability for Unit 1 D1 and D2 Diesel Generators at 1349 CDT. The calculated limiting outside air temperature needed for equipment in the D1 and D2 rooms to meet their temperature limits is 100.5?F. Outside ambient temperature exceeded this limiting value and both Unit 1 safeguards diesel generators were declared inoperable at 1349 CDT on 6/7/2011. If outside ambient air temperature is above the maximum analytical value, components within the D1 and D2 diesel rooms may not be able to perform their required functions thus preventing them from fulfilling their safety function needed to mitigate the consequences of an accident (10 CFR 50.72 (b)(3)(v)(D)). “Unit 1 is currently in Mode 3, Hot Standby. Ambient outside air temperatures are at or near peak values for the day and expected to decrease approximately 1 to 2 degrees per hour which will restore ambient conditions to less than the maximum analytical value. “The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified.” The outside air temperature has peaked at 101.4?F which is unusually high for this location and is expected to drop below the 100.5?F limit shortly. The licensee does not anticipate that this condition will be repeated again any time soon

I have two major concerns here. The first one is that the temperature that the backup cooling fails at  is only 100 degrees F.  Hardly outside the realm of possibilities.

My  second concern is the corrective action taken: none. At least none listed here. Instead we have the licensee of the plant  posing as an expert meterologist, giving us this opinion that they do “not anticipate that this condition will be repeated again any time soon.”

“Hey,  wake up, it’s the weather for heaven’s sake!

(photo courtesy of Minnesota dept of Commerce)

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speaking out against…?

This is the sound of a voice, crying in the wilderness.

This is the sound of my voice.

This is the sound of outrage.

This is the sound of change.

Maybe you can hear it.

Maybe you can’t.

Either way, I must speak.

Whether you come to this voice by way of the internet, on this blog, or by way of the inner-net through the ethers, you are hearing me. Our voices are not just sound. They are not just words on paper. When the thoughts communicated are sincerely coming from our hearts, they are also energy. An energy that has the ability to do work, as they say in physics, a force. The more we cry out against the injustices, against the slavery and torture and misuse of power, the more energy there is to stop it.

You have power. Don’t be silent. Speak up, anywhere, any way. Voice your opinion. It matters.

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