Thursday, April 18, 2013

Possible Emergency Radioactive Release @ La Salle, IL Nuclear Plant

According to NRC  Event Number: 48939, An emergency was declared at the La Salle Nuclear plant in Marseilles, IL. A lightning strike during a thunderstorm took out all station power, resulting into both nuclear generators going into emergency shutdown and  "primary containment vent and purge valves were opened to vent the Unit 2 containment".  Five hours later Unit 1 was also vented but   that venting "was being performed through the Standby Gas Treatment system which is a filtered system

We can not estimate how much radioactivity was released because  "Due to the loss of offsite power, the Station Vent Stack Wide Range Gas Monitor (WRGM) and the Standby Gas Treatment Wide Range Gas Monitor (VGWRGM) also lost power"

Apparently the radioactive release monitors don't get emergency backup power;  which is convenient from the nuclear plant's perspective of not being able to measure and then having to report radioactive releases that happen under such conditions. But, it is disconcerting for anyone downwind.

Our check of weather conditions indicated the winds were blowing East at 20-30 mph. The on going thunderstorm also muddles the situation as the Terrestrial Gamma Rays produced by thunderstorms can result in the fissioning of any radioactive materials released during such a emergency venting event.

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