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Brunswick Nuclear Plant learning from Fukushima, dealing with own problems

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SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) -- After the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan last year, Progress Energy is trying to make sure nothing like that ever happens here. But with incidents involving both reactors at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant recently, we wanted to know how Progress Energy is addressing its own issues.

"We are now, based on learnings from Fukushima, assessing whether our understanding of flooding, seismic events in today's technology is accurate or needs to be changed," Brunswick Nuclear Plant Vice President Michael Annacone said at a briefing w=Wednesday to discuss the ongoing response to the Fukushima disaster. "Every time there's a challenge in our industry, no matter where it happens, we're accountable to understand what happened, learn from it and to continue to enhance the safety of our plant."

Progress Energy was clear on the actions it's taking in response to the Fukushima disaster, but there are still issues at the plant that need to be addressed.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined an incident involving the plant's unit two reactor last November happened because of unqualified workers.

"There was an assumption that these people are experienced," Annacone said. "They've used the equipment before, but they weren't officially and formally trained on it."

Annacone says the employees were all re-trained.

Reactor one was shut down last week.

"This current issue is purely an equipment failure on an electrical panel in the plant," Annacone said.

Annacone says the company is looking into what caused the electrical equipment failure that led to last week's reactor shut down.

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Japan-like disaster unlikely to happen for a number of reasons

To put it bluntly, Tokyo Electric screwed up - big time! Once they lost offsite power and onsite emergency generator power, and looked around at what the chances were of recovering either, they should have come to the realization that the site was probably done.
There's a number of things that could have been done to get the reactors stabilized that likely were not done for financial reasons. One of which is injecting a high concentration of boric acid (AKA: Borax) which will do a pretty good job of putting the brakes on the heat generation in the core. The problem with doing that is that it makes a real mess of the fuel and other things, and pretty much destines the reactor system to be decommissioned. The result is a reactor system, if not recoverable, that can be decommissioned in "normal" way. That is, no unusual risks for the workers or environment.

I would expect that if something similar happened here, PGN would make the decision on their own, and if they didn't, the NRC would make it for them.

This info is out there for further reading - google bwr borax scram
This is likely the "special coolant" that the USA was trying to deliver to Japan during height of the incident that they didn't want.

You are correct but for the wrong reason

The problem at Fukushima wasn't a runaway reaction. The control rods scram'd during the seismic event which stopped the reaction. The problem was the residual heat left in the rods. When the pumps lost even the backup power, the water boiled off and the rods melted.

Boron doesn't make anything cool faster, it is another type of moderator to slow down the reaction.

But why is A Fukushima event not as likely here? We don't have a subduction zone 50 miles off the coast.

I am fully aware of that. I

I am fully aware of that. I was just trying to put in in layman's terms. Hey HPCI, and it's friends can only do so much. I'm not in that field anymore, but I've done plenty of time on the inside - way inside. Not quite "under", but same neighborhood.

I am out of here

I live within 1//2 mile of the plant and I am out of here asap. Borax injectors don't do it for me any more.

Bye Bye

JR
Southport, NC