Corrected copy Yesterday, the Byron nuclear power station lost power to Unit 2, which had to shut down. During the shutdown, the plant vented steam from the plant secondary side, which MIGHT contain minute quantities of tritium based on the assumption of some leakage between the primary and secondary through steam generator tubes.
Here is a local newscast discussing the incident. The quiz for the day is to see how many specific public relations faux pas you can find in this report of what is apparently an exceedingly minor event at one of Chicago’s most important industrial facilities.
On Thursday, January 26, I spoke to Bud Ryan, an antinuclear activist who has recently produced a film titled The Forgotten Bomb aimed at reenergizing interest in efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. We agree on that issue, but Bud has expanded his antinuclear activism to opposition to nuclear energy and even to the point where he questions the value of nuclear medicine. The conversation on Atomic Show #179 – The Forgotten Bomb was a bit different from the normal fare on The Atomic Show. We ended by agreeing to continue disagreeing. It is worth listening to the discussion, in my opinion, if only to learn more about what motivates people to fight so hard against of the best tools that man has ever discovered.
PS – I hope that the comment system issues that have been plaguing Atomic Insights since Sunday have been solved. If they haven’t, I suppose that you will have a little difficulty taking the quiz. However, please understand that no comments have been lost or inadvertently deleted; they have just been taking longer than normal to show up in the thread.
Follow-up reports on Byron Unit 2 loss of offsite power
NRC NEWS (January 31, 2012) – NRC BEGINS SPECIAL INSPECTION AT BYRON NUCLEAR PLANT
Unit 2 remains in a safe and stable shutdown condition and the diesel generators continue to supply power to the plant as planned for this type of incident. There was a steam release from the non-nuclear side of the plant with trace amounts of tritium. This type of steam release is used by nuclear power plants to release pressure in order to maintain the plant in a stable condition. Doses to the public from this type of release are significantly below even the most stringent Federal protective limits and, therefore, do not pose a risk to public health and safety.
Rockford Rochester Register Star (January 31, 2012) – Unusual Event’ at Exelon’s Byron nuclear plant is over
Exelon Nuclear officials say an equipment failure in a switchyard near the plant triggered the automatic shutdown of Unit 2.
The company, which continues to investigate the shutdown, said the plant is “in a safe and stable condition with no impact to public safety.” The plant is about 20 miles southwest of Rockford.
Christian Science Monitor (January 31, 2012) – What Got Vented Into the Air?
Where did the tritium come from?
It’s a byproduct of the nuclear reactions that take place in the plant’s reactors and boron, used in a reactor’s coolant to help control the reactor’s chain reactions. It found its way into the vented steam at Byron because the piping that carried the reactor water through the steam generator has some small leaks, Lochbaum says.