Exelon is reporting via email press release that Oyster Creek has exited alert status. Water levels have receded below the alert levels but there is still no clear information on the status of the intake pumps during the alert. It is also unclear if access to the ultimate heat sink (the river) was lost at any point during the alert. This is critical as it is required to cool both the reactor and the spent fuel pool even if the reactor is turned off. The reactor does have some alternative methods to cool the reactor in an emergency but there is not an alternative heat removal system for the spent fuel pool. This makes access to the river for cooling critical for safety. Temperatures and water levels for the reactor and fuel pool during the alert have not been made public.
Two issues have been technically misrepresented by the media and the nuclear industry through this alert. It has been reported the reactor does not require cooling because it is shut off. This is not correct. Cooling is still required to remove decay heat from the fuel assemblies in the reactor. The reactor does have some temporary alternative means of cooling so temporary loss of access to the river would not necessarily cause a considerable problem like long term loss could. The spent fuel pool has one method of cooling, the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger requires access to the river via the service water system to cool the fuel pool. Operators do have the ability to add more water to the fuel pool through water stored on site and a fire hose. This is water replacement, not pool cooling. Both of these concepts have been used to confuse the public in an attempt to deflect public concerns about the conditions at the reactor.
It was also previously reported by Reuters from Exelon representatives that the water level height near the intakes was 7.4 feet and that the service water pumps sit at 7 feet. Exelon & the NRC are now claiming water only went to 6.8 feet. They give no explanation for this discrepancy in reporting
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