Saturday, October 1, 2011

North Anna Analysis: Seismic Activity Under Reported; Insufficient Cooling Was Available; Public Was Placed At Risk; Radiation Leaks Not Important To Restart

The POTRBLOG team has completed an analysis of the information presented at the September 8th Dominion North Anna / Nuclear Regulatory commission meeting; we present our findings here for your review and input. In this analysis we will present several key conclusions from our analysis; these are issues  which the NRC team seemingly missed during the meeting. Moreover, we will also point out several significant issues of public concern which the media should have reported.

Overall, the lower level NRC staff engineers & scientists did a good job questioning the significant weaknesses in Dominion’s thrust to underperform in restarting the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant. However,   the  issues listed below remain. Hopefully the NRC will discover and address these issues in their upcoming North Anna meeting on October 3rd, and we look forward to being proved wrong on these points of significant concern.

First, issues either undiscovered or unmentioned by the NRC concerning North Anna.
  1. North Anna Unit 2 underwent significantly more ground motion than Unit 1; as evidenced by failure of all three of Unit 2’s generator step up transformers and half of Unit 2’s back up generators, versus the failure of one Unit 1 generator step up transformer and zero of Unit 1’s back up generators. [Unit 1 has limited seismic recording, Unit 2 has no seismic recording]
  2. North Anna Unit 2 had its cool down stopped and was left in hot standby because Dominion was concerned about their capability to further cool down the reactor –“Defense in depth”. Indicators are that the lake levels were significantly dropped by the cool down of Unit 1
  3. Had North Anna’s seismic alarms functioned properly both reactors Units 1 and 2 would have been required to go into cold shutdown, which lake levels and cooling capacity may have not supported.
  4. The failure of North Anna to react properly as a result of the failure of seismic indicators to alert the operators of earthquake design exceedance combined with an approaching hurricane and limited reactor cooling capability placed the public at risk.

    Second, issues mentioned by the NRC but not covered by the media.
    1. The NRC does not consider radioactive leakage from the plant to be a hindrance to restarting North Anna unless it is “REALLY LEAKING” to the point of affecting functionality of the restart.
    2. North Anna’s limited dimensional seismic recording capability UNDERREPORTED the strength of the quake.
    3. The seismic recordings which were available were missing several frequency bands.
    4. Dominion’s inspection theory has been based on “if it looks good, it must be good”
    5. North Anna should have been able to interpret seismic results on site.

    Finally, there is at least one person at North Anna who deserves a pay raise. But, that raise is deserved based on his ability to skillfully “handle” regulatory engineers and scientists.

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