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May 12, 2011 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Alabama's Browns Ferry Plant nuclear plant has received red finding from the NRC for an emergency coolant valve failure that wasn't detected for over a year.

Browns Ferry operates three boiling water reactors manufactured by General Electric during the late 60s and early 70s, making them similar to reactors 1 & 2 at Fukushima. Fukushima also operates reactors produced by Toshiba and Hitachi.
posted by jeffburdges (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
NRC's report (pdf)
posted by jeffburdges at 5:19 AM on May 12, 2011


Luckily Alabama doesn't get violent weather events that could endanger those reactors.
posted by Eyebeams at 5:23 AM on May 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


....will result in increased NRC inspection and oversight of the facility.

Increased inspection. Increased over what? If the "normal" level of inspection allowed a critical valve at this plant to be out of service for a year, then isn't there a need for a new normal level of inspection everywhere?
posted by three blind mice at 5:32 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


With all the crazy audits and regulations and unbelievable paperwork those places must follow I don't even understand how this is even possible. The "normal" level of inspection is mind boggling.
posted by Blake at 5:35 AM on May 12, 2011


What's a year? Nothing much...

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/safety/two-decades-of-missed.html

It shows the NRC is finally on the ball!

Really. The nuclear industry and its regulators remind me of my two year old's kindergarten...
posted by Djinh at 5:35 AM on May 12, 2011


Hold on now! Kindergarteners are highly supervised.
posted by Splunge at 5:36 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why we even need regulators, the government should just stay out of this and let the free market handle it. If the power plant starts emitting poisonous radiation into the environment the people of Alabama will exercise their right as free market citizens to move away and purchase their energy from a power plant that does not emit poisonous radiation.
posted by any major dude at 5:37 AM on May 12, 2011 [33 favorites]


@Splunge: You're right of course...

[edit]
With all due respect to my son's kindergarten supervisors, who do an excellent job of ensuring that he doesn't melt down the neighbourhood.
[/edit]
posted by Djinh at 5:41 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Coal is deadly. Oil is getting scarce. Nuclear is hard to get right. If only there were some source of energy that could like, beam down on us or blow on to us or flow past us or heat us from below or something. Ah well.
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on May 12, 2011 [21 favorites]


It might be worth noting that during last month's tornado outbreak, Browns Ferry--the second largest nuclear plant in the nation and one similar is design to the Fukushima reactors as noted in the OP--lost power precisely as did Fukushima. Fortunately, the backup generators did not fail in this case.
posted by jefficator at 5:49 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


the saga of Vermont Yankee is a thing to behold...

what happens when your executive testify to the state senate that your nuclear power plant can't leak tritium into the ground around the plant and it is discovered that it is doing precisely that: you lose state license for the plant.

what happens when you lose state license for the plant? you sue and claim that states can't grant a license for a nuclear power plant.

(oh and entergy, the owners, are trying to spinoff VY and other older plants they own into a separate company to skirt liability on decomissioning)

I'm not opposed to nuclear power on principle, but any country with the attitude towards government regulation that the US has ought to be prevented from using nuclear power.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


With all due respect to my son's kindergarten supervisors, who do an excellent job of ensuring that he doesn't melt down the neighbourhood.

Although there have been some... uh, hazardous waste leakages not disclosed to the press.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:59 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not opposed to nuclear power on principle, but any country with the attitude towards government regulation that the US has ought to be prevented from using nuclear power.

Based on this argument, I am not sure we should be allowed coal or natural gas, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:01 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just what I needed to make Portal 2 even more creepy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:14 AM on May 12, 2011


This sort of thing scares me, but not because of the chance of nuclear meltdown.

Presumably nuclear reactors are monitored much more closely than other sources of power, or the various industrial plants. If these reactors have such poor records, then what's going on over at the coal fired plants or the refinery?
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 6:28 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on this argument, I am not sure we should be allowed coal or natural gas, either.

Well, we can have that discussion after the first LNG terminal/tanker explosion.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:28 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to a recent MeFi post, I first mistakenly read this post as concerning the "Bryan Ferry Plant," so I'm now really enjoying the idea of a plant mass producing suave English singers in white tuxedos.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:29 AM on May 12, 2011


Well, I guess we could pin all our hopes on one of those new fossil fuel innovations we've been hearing so much about, like shale mining.

Oh wait...
Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas Pollutes Water Wells
A new study indicates that fracturing the Marcellus Shale for natural gas is contaminating private drinking water wells
posted by saulgoodman at 6:42 AM on May 12, 2011


Coal is deadly. Oil is getting scarce. Nuclear is hard to get right.

It's not that hard to get right. The problem is that the operators are working under a primary goal of profitability instead of safety.
posted by rocket88 at 6:57 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


profitability

That and bomb material.
posted by Artw at 7:04 AM on May 12, 2011


Luckily Alabama doesn't get violent weather events that could endanger those reactors.

I think I smell sarcasm..............
posted by Mantix at 7:06 AM on May 12, 2011


profitability

That and bomb material.


Just another kind of profit.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:19 AM on May 12, 2011


Good thing no one got rough with it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:53 AM on May 12, 2011


Just like Sony faking their DSS PCI audits, it looks like the audit process used here is just as open to fraud.

Where does the buck stop these days?
posted by mikelieman at 8:06 AM on May 12, 2011


Thanks to a recent MeFi post, I first mistakenly read this post as concerning the "Bryan Ferry Plant," so I'm now really enjoying the idea of a plant mass producing suave English singers in white tuxedos.

no less toxic than uranium 232.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:37 AM on May 12, 2011


no less toxic than uranium 232.

Actually, the Ferry's Oxide that gets all over everything in the event of a breach is the worst part.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:47 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And GenjiandProust wins the thread
posted by Blasdelb at 9:10 AM on May 12, 2011


I'm now really enjoying the idea of a plant mass producing suave English singers in white tuxedos.

Have you considered the environmental impact of Toxy Music?
All those open "Grey Lagoons" just there, trapping wildlife? Then "Out of the Blue", there is an overload of the "Ladytron", and then we'd have to evacuate "In the Midnight Hour"

In the aftermath, there will be people in "India" wondering "Could it Happen to Me?".
posted by chambers at 9:13 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I expect many case studies will be written and many cooling valves at other plants inspected after this.
posted by zompus at 9:51 AM on May 12, 2011


Well, we can have that discussion after the first LNG terminal/tanker explosion.

Opening that PDF caused a Tufte-scale Level-7 Powerpoint Catastrophe to explode all over my screen.
posted by formless at 11:12 AM on May 12, 2011


the government should just stay out of this and let the free market handle it

Oops, Brown's Ferry is owned by TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, "a federally owned corporation created by congressional charter in May 1933".
posted by Ardiril at 4:35 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why we even need regulators, the government should just stay out of this and let the free market handle it. If the power plant starts emitting poisonous radiation into the environment the people of Alabama will exercise their right as free market citizens to move away and purchase their energy from a power plant that does not emit poisonous radiation.

Ardiril beat me to it but this a fucking moronic statement, completely devoid of any understanding of the circumstances of the Browns Ferry plant, that draws precisely the opposite conclusion than the facts support. Anyone who favorited this tripe is a bleating dipshit. As mentioned above, Browns Ferry is owned by the TVA, a federal government owned corporation. TVA, in fact, was the first major attempt by government to enter the utilities field and was met with fierce resistance by private industry and citizens. The former knew they wouldn't be able to compete (indeed, laws were passed to prevent competition in the TVA's service area and to increase the strength of its monopoly) while the latter feared inefficiency and incompetence. (They also saw it as an essentially socialist move, which it was, so spare me the eye-rolling.) If there is a teachable moment here, it has nothing to do with market failure or "evil" private utility companies and everything to do with government run enterprises as a bastion of waste and error. You can read about another recent TVA fuckup here.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:03 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


ferdinand, the comment you find so offensive was sarcasm. As is increasingly the case (because there are increasing numbers of people willing to say jaw-droppingly stupid things in public), it's sometimes hard to discern the sarcastic from the delusional. The number of favorites is a clue.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:02 AM on May 13, 2011


Not sure why you see the need to point out that it was sarcasm when my comment was in response not to the literal but the sarcastic interpretation of the comment.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2011


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