I can’t believe there’s still more bad news to discuss concerning VY this week!
On Valentine’s Day, I awoke to the news that the NRC had just revealed another “minor violation”at Vermont Yankee, that occurred the day after shutdown, on December 30, 2014.
As per usual, they assure us that the problem was discovered and reported in the “final inspection report,” and that it was fixed before the public was placed in any danger.
The obvious question is: what could have happened if that final inspection report hadn’t required that someone take a closer look at the water levels in a timely manner?
The answer is: perhaps nothing…so long as all the other systems were functioning properly and no other mitigating circumstances occurred to further compromise the water level.
But, the emergency cooling water pumps likely would not have worked if needed.
As staffing becomes further undermined by cost constraints, and underused infrastructure succumbs to passive aging, any small failure becomes more likely to be compounded by a chain of other failures, and could lead to a truly calamitous event.
If you have any doubts about the truth in this, I suggest you watch the embedded Fairewinds video at the end of this diary, which explains in some detail how sequential failures at Fukushima Daiichi lined up like a string of dominoes to bring about the unlikely triple meltdown we now know is so regrettably possible.
I don’t think I need to explain again to our astute readers why maintaining something as simple as the correct level of water in a reactor is essential to avoiding a crisis.
According to Susan Smallheer, reporting in the Rutland Herald:
… water levels in the reactor core were lower than plant workers realized because of faulty calculations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Friday.
This is what we at GMD have come to regard as a “Friday News Dump.” During VY’s operating years under Entergy control, we grew accustomed to learning about violations that took place much earlier at VY, only on Fridays, when most people are too busy with weekend plans to take much notice of the news from VY.
Entergy Nuclear spokesman Martin Cohn said Entergy workers incorrectly measured water levels, thinking they were higher than they actually were.
He attributed the problem to the fact that many plant personnel took five days off immediately after the Dec. 29 shutdown. “It was an issue of instrument calibrations,” he said.
As we bear in mind that personnel cuts will be ongoing at the idled reactor, and that Entergy has sought relief from its emergency planning and notification obligations, is instructive to read the NRC’s own words about the failure:
“Entergy did not establish measures to assure the design basis was correctly translated into procedures and instructions,” the NRC report stated…An incorrect assumption in calculation led to reduced water level in the reactor vessel while using the shutdown cooling system,”
Doesn’t that make you feel all better,now?
Happy Valentine’s Day from VY!
I am a non-technical member of the Fairewinds Energy Education crew, but the views expressed here are my own alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Fairewinds.