Earthquake shaken North Anna Nuclear Plant Unit 1 had an emergency yesterday 12/5/11 related to its ability to cool the nuclear core. However, the NRC event report on the situation is NOT classified as an emergency because "DISCOVERY OF AFTER-THE-FACT EMERGENCY CONDITION - UNUSUAL EVENT". In other words, they did not realize they had an emergency until after the fact so they don't have to report it as an emergency.
If there were one nuclear plant in the country one would predict would be at greatest risk of disaster it would be UNIT 1 at North Anna nuclear. North Anna recently experienced an earthquake beyond what the plant was designed to withstand. Unit 1 was deemed to be okay to operate based on an inspection of Unit 2. Unit 2 had its fuel replaced, Unit 1 did not. Its the functional equivalent of the Government requiring only 1 of your cars to get a safety sticker, because your other car checked out okay after the accident both of your cars were involved in. Imagine if they let commercial aircraft operate that way.
The current emergency at North Anna Unit 1 is difficult to assess because the event reports never resolve all the ambiguity; but it appears that the reactor cooling system became erratic, resulting in an in ability to dynamically control the reactor's coolant pressure. As a result, a pressure safety valve blew open in an attempt to prevent further damage and 42 gallons of radioactive coolant spewed out into a Pressurizer Relief Tank.
The real question is: was the source of the pressure change an earthquake related issue with the fuel rods; or was the issue earthquake related with pressure control valve? Neither is good, and either can lead to a meltdown, but the latter is more recoverable.
But no matter what the case, North Anna is definitely the one place in the country where being prepared for a nuclear accident by spending FIVE DOLLARS on a pack of IOSAT for each member of the family would make for a very effective cost effective risk mitigation strategy.
Five dollars on IOSAT
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