Saturday, December 1, 2012

This plant must never be restarted...


Dear Readers,

If you know ANYONE that works in the nuclear industry, ask them to quit their job -- TODAY!

And ask them not to pour anti-freeze in the fuel oil tank for the Emergency Diesel Generators on the way out, as apparently some sod did at San Onofre last month, and the FBI have been called in to "investigate," which I presume means looking at old security videos and interviewing people to see who holds a grudge (that apparently won't narrow it down very much), who had access to the area (ditto), who acts nervous during the interview (...), and who had a bad hair day (me). Since the area was unsecured and hundreds of employees had access, I doubt they'll catch the guy.

With a third of the work force -- 730 people -- having been laid off recently at San Onofre, there was bound to be some animosity at the plant during the layoff period. I don't understand why SCE couldn't have offered all their employees (except the guy that poured anti-freeze in the EDG) jobs in their renewable energy division. Then there probably wouldn't have been ANY animosity at all -- here's SCE's claim:

"SCE leads the nation in renewable energy, delivering approximately 15.5 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy to customers in 2011. This constitutes about 21.1 percent of the energy we deliver to customers.

"In 2011 SCE signed 15 contracts for 920 megawatts of renewable power. These contracts have the potential of providing 2.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity ­ enough for more than 364,000 average-sized homes for a year."


In a chart on the same web page, SCE claims to have a renewable "capacity" of over 4,000 megawatts -- double San Onofre's output.

But besides wondering why SCE treats their employees so poorly, surely everyone has to wonder -- the public, the NRC, and the employees that are left -- whether or not 2/3rds of the previous work force is enough for safely run one reactor while simultaneously trying to figure out and fix what went wrong with the other one.

Below are my tweets from listening to last night's NRC hearing. I took advantage of the NRC's webcast, which seemed to have been produced with outdated software. What a surprise.

Southern California Edison is playing a very slick game, gaming the NRC in this case, and duping the public with technospeak. But the short story seems to be this:

Everything that is the least bit different between Unit 2 and Unit 3 is being used to "prove" that SCE can operate Unit 2 safely somehow because it's not like Unit 3. At the same time everything that is similar between the two units can provide valuable data to prove that at 70% power, Unit 2 won't act like Unit 3.

SCE claimed that FEI occurred in Unit 3 because the void fraction was too high (that is, the steam was too dry), and the velocity of the steam was too fast, and Unit 3 was slightly different in design and fabrication (they ignored the operational differences). Some numbers had been entered wrong into a computer program. Also, retainer bars near the U-bends at the top weren't designed correctly. Anti-vibration bars had too large a gap between the bars and the tubes so they didn't dampen the "in-plane" vibrations enough, while the tube support plates had too small a gap, so liquids could not get through, further drying out the steam.

It sounded interesting, but it was mostly guesswork and they even admitted it several times in one way or another, saying, after prodding by the NRC, that various presumptions were based on "newly developed risk models and assumptions" based on looking at Unit 3 and guessing that what went wrong with Unit 3 provides a good enough benchmark to know how FEI will behave if it happens in Unit 2. But that's not a whole lot of data to risk the entire value -- well over a trillion dollars -- of Southern California over!

SCE mentioned a Main Steam Line Break once or twice (it's a "Design Basis Accident" so they have to plan for it), but for all intents and purposes, they completely ignored that issue all night, on the assumption that Fluid Elastic Instability takes a long time to damage the tubes if it happens, just because they think it took a long time (11 months; that's not so long!) in Unit 3. SCE assumes Unit 3's tubes were vibrating from FEI right from the start, but that might not be a valid assumption and might not matter anyway as an indication of how Unit 2's degraded tubes will behave. SCE admitted during the night that tube-to-tube degradation can be "unpredictable and rapid" but they want to risk it anyway!

The tweets shown below are in reverse chronological order, so I recommend reading them from the bottom up.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:35pm via HootSuite

NRC says they have "significant work to do" to evaluate SCE's claims & "have a number of significant questions that need to be answered."
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:33pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal NRC's Region IV Deputy Regional Administrator closes by saying the NRC will be forming an oversight panel, charter to come...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:31pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Roger Johnson asks why we're not talking about public health &safety -- cancer, for example. He wants epidemiologists present.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:28pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Next a teacher and mother asks SCE not to experiment with a 5% chance of Fluid Elastic Instability.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:25pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Dietrich assures us SCE knows why there was FEI, namely that the models were wrong (ignoring design and ops problems).
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:23pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Martha Sullivan asks why they are even thinking of restarting when they don't completely understand what caused the problem?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:22pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Nancy Nolan asks if we have to wait for a leak to know there's a problem? Other than "predicting," yes, that's the only way.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:19pm via HootSuite

Still playing at:
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:16pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Hey? Where did my audio go??? The event ended online at 9:15! I am disgusted with NRC's inability to handle a webcast!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:14pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Joe Holtzman asks Mr. Dietrich: "Why wasn't effective failure mode analysis done before?" And points out U2 & U3 are similar.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:12pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Tube-To-Tube-Wear is "very sobering" to SCE. "Any entity involved" needs to look at this "sobering" problem. That's all PWRs!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:11pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Lutz also wants to know why, when SCE said it was all done right the first time, should we believe them this time?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:10pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Ray Lutz points out that all the "experts" were called "independent" but all were hired by Edison.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:07pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal IBEW local 47 supports SanO restart. Asks how many fatalities in the US (since we haven't had a Fukushima yet). Chip skips it.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:03pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Chip discards yet another pro-nuker, then a poet sings a poem: "What part of Fukushima do you not understand?" Pete Dietrich?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:01pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal NRC's Ryan says the licensee took about 8 months to come up with the analysis. The NRC says they'll need some time, too.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:00pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal A senior citizen "hopes the work proceeds in a timely manner." Next a chamber of commerce pro-nuker... Time flies...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:58pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Libbe HaLevy asks, "when can OUR experts speak?" Can we have an ADJUDICATORY HEARING? A "legal environment"? Put SanO on trial!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:56pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal NRC admits to having hired one outside expert & contracted with another. Other than that so far it's all in-house "expertise."
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:54pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Antelope Valley lady asks if the NRC actually has the resources to do a full technical review? The NRC says they do. (We pay.)
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:53pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Gene asks this Q: HOW come SCE says they're going to be responsible considering they're not required by law to be responsible?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:51pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Chip tells a pro-nuke troll his Q will be treated as a comment. Gene Stone points out that the U2 and U3 flows are similar.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:47pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Gary's also pointing out that there are WAY TOO MANY OTHER PROBLEMS besides just the SGs. He's getting a loud applause.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:46pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Gary Headrick is asking first question, pointing out that even though U2 is better than U3 both are worse than industry norms.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:44pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Chip just announced they'll extend the meeting to 9:25 (about 40 minutes from now). They haven't let the public ask Qs yet!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:40pm via HootSuite

@Shazzamm1971 yeah, this whole idea of running at 70% is an experiment in seeing if their guesswork is reasonably accurate... or not...
Show Conversation
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:32pm via HootSuite

Shazzamm1971Nov 30, 9:27pm via Mobile Web

@AceHoffman Is the 70% is based on the original power specs or the up rated output. So 70% may actually mean 95% of the original.

Shazzamm1971: @AceHoffman in Vibrational analysis having a baseline is everything, putting monitors on a compromised SG and op at 70% will tell nothing8:35pm, Nov 30 from Mobile Web

AceHoffman: @shazzamm1971 yeah, this whole idea of running at 70% is an experiment in seeing if their guesswork is reasonably accurate... or not...8:40pm, Nov 30 from HootSuite

Shazzamm1971: @AceHoffman Is the 70% is based on the original power specs or the up rated output. So 70% may actually mean 95% of the original.9:27pm, Nov 30 from Mobile Web
OR until it's back at 100%. Your guess is as good as theirs as to which it will be: FEI-induced meltdown or sweet profits for Edison?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:30pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Pete Dietrich admits they plan to run unit two at higher and higher power and pressure until ... until... until it breaks.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:26pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal SCE says it was all evaluated under 10CFR50.59. They say. SoCal's commitment is to the profits of the shareholders.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:22pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal But if a sensor fails SCE won't shut down, AND they won't even be able to use the data collected during the five-month run.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:21pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Vibration monitors at the tube sheet area are located outside the SGs. They banged a hammer inside to calibrate them.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:19pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Argon-41 is more easily detected than N-16. Good to know. (N-16 can be used to detect a 5 gallon-per-day leak.)
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:13pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal SCE once again admits that they only have probabilities to go on-that Fluid Elastic Instability is only a power transient away.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:10pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal NRC sees that the AVB functions are being changed, and are asking SCE why they don't see it as a design change.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 8:04pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal The calculated-over-critical stability ratio is considered safe at 75%, or anything less than 1. That's 70% power, they hope.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:59pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal SCE's "new approach" is to give up on fixing the problem and just run at an administratively-set lower power output.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:54pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal I can't imagine AREVA being able to deliver an unbiased opinion to SCE over MHI's bad SGs at SONWGS. That's just an opinion.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:53pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Now they're saying they knew years ago the void fraction was going to be very high, but they went ahead and built them anyway.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:50pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Velocity and void fraction are important. But so are pressure and temperature... and earthquakes and MSLBs!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:48pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal SCE admits that the void fraction at 100% thermal power would be too high and unsafe. They promise not to turn up the dial.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:44pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal "The paradigm at the time" (~2002) was that other dampening would prevent in-plane dampening. Now they know they didn't know.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:39pm via HootSuite

The SCE guy just admitted that running Unit 2 at 100% power would be very dangerous. But the only thing stopping that is "administrative."
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:37pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal The sum total is they might be able to run at 70% power, but if there's a MSLB or a nutcase or a power transient, then what?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:33pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Why isn't MHI required to be at this? Is it because they're way off in Japan? If so, isn't that a reason to not buy MHI parts?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:25pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Ah Ha! They've just admitted they want to run the reactor at 70% power to TEST THEIR WAY TO 100%. That's not safe.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:24pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal What if the guy who poured anti-freeze in the oil of the EDG decides to crank up the power to 100%? What happens then?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:22pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Note how many times SCE says they're still investigating stuff! Yet they want permission to run at 70% power: Voluntarily set.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:21pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Comparing Unit 2 and Unit 3, the thermal hydraulics were NOT as similar as SCE claims...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:19pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Dietrich is talked about the OSGs "cracking" from chemicals, but their main intention with the RSGs was to minimize wear. Oops!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:16pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal NRC guy asks if the AVB bars had a lower harmonic because of a redesign. SCE blamed MHI for such details, one way or the other.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:12pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Will there be high localized void fractions during a MSLB?? Will the steam be too dry? The velocity too high? Not enuf damping?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 7:11pm via HootSuite

#nukefreecal Unit 2 is NOT "clearly different" - the results were a bit different but that's probably due to operational differences...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:58pm via HootSuite

Unit 2 had different pressures, temperatures and flow rates which probably caused the different behaviors -- and some design issues.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:57pm via HootSuite

3 tubes failed below Main Steam Line Break accident pressure. In case you wonder whether we almost lost Southern California last January...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:55pm via HootSuite

A "backward look" at San Onofre from DAY ONE indicates ~4,000,000 pounds of high level spent fuel sitting on site and we don't want any...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:53pm via HootSuite

Say what, "UNPREDICTABLE AND RAPID"??? Tube-To-Tube wear in 2 tubes is 2 tubes too many!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:51pm via HootSuite

2 tubes in Unit 2 with >35% wear, 2 were close enough to be more than that by the next cycle... two tubes with TTW 14% "probably less"...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:48pm via HootSuite

The fact that the tubes passed the "integrity requirements" proves that those requirements were/are inadequate...
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:46pm via HootSuite

There are additional types of probes that are more expensive which SCE did not use... see the DAB Safety Team reports for more information.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:43pm via HootSuite

Then they looked on the outside and found some wear from the retainer bars... so they plugged the 94 tubes that touched the bars.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:39pm via HootSuite

Okay, so they looked at all 20,000 tubes with a bobbin coil. max 76 feet. They looked and looked. Then sampled with the rotating probe.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:35pm via HootSuite

Note that Unit 1's steam generators did NOT function very well, and the original SGs (OSGs) in U2 & U3 didn't function very well either!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:33pm via HootSuite

9727 things that can fail in each steam generator and dozens of places on each of those "10,000" tubes. So 170,000 inspections isn't much!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:31pm via HootSuite

The tube-to-tube separation was much less than the design had called for (0.05 inches versus 0.25 inches or more).
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:30pm via HootSuite

They took away ~7 inches of topspace above the U-tubes for the Replacement Steam Generators. They can't put it back.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:29pm via HootSuite

The need for effective heat transfer after shutdown goes on for a long time. If the tubes have cascaded ruptures, look out!
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:26pm via HootSuite

Here's an animation you can look at if you don't have visuals, from my web site. The top two images are like San Onofre
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:24pm via HootSuite

Safety margins for SG tube wear are probabilities, guesses, and assumptions. The resultant numbers might be right, but they might not be.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:22pm via HootSuite

Even without TTW (tube-to-tube wear), Unit 2s tubes should have been inspected during the first refueling outage.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:21pm via HootSuite

600 technicians ensure there are "significant safety margins... to ... maintain tube integrity". Didn't they promise that the 1st time?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:18pm via HootSuite

Note that unit two's SGs weren't inspected prior to unit 3's blowing a tube. After spending half a billion $ to install them, why not?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:17pm via HootSuite

They keep saying they did a good job of shutting down Unit 3. But actually, they didn't recognize fluid elastic instability.
AceHoffmanNov 30, 6:14pm via HootSuite

Pete Dietrich says: "We take full responsibility and accountability for [the] decision." Does that mean SCE is abandoning Price-Anderson?!?
AceHoffmanNov 30, 9:49am via HootSuite