CORRECTED COPY and CORRECTED HEADLINE
From Salon.com Possible explosion at Con Ed power plant
UPDATE: John Miksad, Con Ed’s Sr. V.P. of Electic Operations, has confirmed to NY1 that the explosion occurred at one of the company’s substations, knocking out power for 230,000 to 250,000 residents in parts of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. There were no reported injuries.
My guess is that this video footage of a dramatic explosion at a Consolidated Edison electricity distribution substation during Superstorm Sandy is destined to be far less famous than the footage of the brief hydrogen explosions at Fukushima Daiichi following the Sendai earthquake and tsunami.
NOTE: This paragraph remains generally true, but is not related to the transformer explosion depicted in the video.
Thermal power plants, by their very nature, are places where there is a great deal of stored energy. There are ways to make them more resilient; nuclear plants have generally invested far more in that effort than their fossil fuel competitors. I wonder if this particular Con Ed plant is one that might have been a nuclear plant if the focused opposition had not spread fear, uncertainty and doubt during an epic battle in the earliest days of nuclear energy development.
During that battle David E. Lilienthal, who had been the first chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, but was no fan of the technology reportedly told the committee holding a hearing on the proposed plant:
“I would not dream of living in the borough of Queens if there were a large atomic power plant in that region, because there is an alternative — a conventional thermal power plant as to which there are no risks.”
Also on my radar screen this morning is another Gundersen effort to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about nuclear energy by implying that Superstorm Sandy puts Oyster Creek and other nuclear plants at risk of a Fukushima-like incident. Will Davis wrote an excellent response on ANS Nuclear cafe titled Spent Fuel Pool at Oyster Creek.