NRC Provides Some Answers On Sandy Aftermath

Communications staff over at the NRC blog have provided a bit more information on what happened at two plants after and during hurricane Sandy.

The NRC posted this in the comments:

Here is updated information on what happened to the circulating-water pumps at the Salem Unit 1 nuclear power plant during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29:

The Salem Unit 1 plant is equipped with six circulating-water pumps, which supply cooling water to the plant’s condenser from the Delaware River. At the plant’s water intake structure, there are screens to strain out debris and keep such extraneous material from entering the plant. After the storm passed, the screens had to be inspected. Damage was identified to two of six screens. Divers recovered grating that was displaced by wave action and fell into the water just in front of the screens. Again, none of the circulating-water pumps was damaged by the storm, but they could not be restarted prior to the inspection and repair of the screens.

To reiterate what happened during Sandy, the pumps were removed from service in response to the clogging of the screens. That clogging prevented sufficient water from flowing from the river to these large-volume circulating-water pumps. Plant operators, following procedures for such situations, manually tripped, or shut down, the reactor when these conditions presented themselves.

As of this morning (Nov. 6), Salem Unit 1 was back at 100-percent power.

The NRC remains of the position that the pumps were actually not themselves damaged at Salem. PSEG has not provided any further information on the incident beyond their initial statement about broken pumps and the intake building being hit by a wave. The public is left with who to believe. PSEG has been rather useless from a communications standpoint. The NRC has limits on what they can do. They can’t compel an operator to communicate effectively with the public or make them issue press releases with useful details. Conflicting information ends up challenging the public’s trust in the NRC to report honestly even if they were not the party providing incorrect information.


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