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7 Comments

  1. The plant startup is a “good” event. Journalism only reports bad news. Sounds like the low water level let ice enter the cooling water supply piping. In New Jersey, I would think they had designed for a condition when the river was frozen and then thawed.

  2. I still would like to know if they had hot water injection on their intakes, and if not, why not. This is more or less standard practice where icing on a thermal power plant water intake is a risk.

    1. DV8 2XL – Good question. The idea that a plant in New Jersey would be shut down due to icing immediately begged the question for me – then what do plants in Canada, Siberia, Sweden, and Switzerland do to ensure that they do not have to shutdown for a long winter’s nap?
      As I carefully read the event report, it looks like a contributing factor in this case was not just too much ice, but not enough water at the intake. I live in the same region and have spent quite a bit of time on both the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay shores. During stormy weather with the wind blowing down the bay, each one has the ability for some unusual tides. Many areas that are nearly always in shallow water can be exposed. I cannot lay my hands on it now, but at the same time as this shutdown occurred, I saw a photo of a pleasure craft high and dry in its normal berth with a caption about the very low tide.
      From other sources, I also have heard that this was the first time icing had shut down Salem, yet the two units were licensed in 1976 and 1980 respectively. Perhaps the designers did not install a hot water injection system because they never expected it to be necessary?

  3. The spin the antis will put on this is that “nuclear power is unreliable”. It will tie in with the ongoing “use of water” troll tactic (or should we call it the “sapping of precious fluids” troll tactic) which is becoming a common line of argument and method of griefing used by the antis; Millstone was a victim (saw the 600+ page report they had to do back in 1998-2001), VY is a victim, Seabrook was a victim, Oyster Creek is presently a victim, let me guess, Salem will quickly become attacked on this, etc.
    Finding creative means of heat dissipation would short-circuit their arguments – especially forms of heat dissipation that allow the plant to make more money.
    For instance, I brought up a district heating idea when we were discussing Oyster Creek. (It could also be district cooling as well, with an absorption chiller.) Another idea would be to find an industrial (any kind of biological process, e.g. ethanol fermentation, or anaerobic digestion) or agricultural customer (large scale greenhouses) that could dissipate the heat. How about using the low grade heat to run a topping cycle? What one could do is get some volatile fluid – a refrigerant or something – ammonia comes to mind, as it has about the right boiling point, or a hydrofluorocarbon – and use it to run a turbogenerator on the low-grade heat. (Organic Rankine cycle, perhaps.) Ground-source heat dissipation loops are also a possibility.
    I would guess that there are plenty of ways for those with some inventive skills to turn “waste heat” into money. All it takes is some research into finding the right way to do it, some clever engineering, and a bit of thinking outside the box. Instead of thinking, “Damn trolls!”, you ought to think “You’re forcing us to find ways to generate more profits!”

  4. I am surprised with the quick restart of Unit 2. My understanding was that upon shutdown, decay products that absorb neutrons (xenon?) begin to build up, and it takes more excess reactivity to overcome them than is available in commercial reactors (naval reactors are different here). The way I understand it, in continuous operation there are enough excess neutrons to transmute the decay product to something that does not absorb neutrons, and that to restart after shut down, one normally has to wait about a week until enough of these neutron absorbing decay products have decayed naturally so that the reactor has sufficient reactivity to restart.

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