Friday, February 23, 2007

Fuel Rods CRACKING UP, Reactor Core NEXT?

I know I cannot pronounce the word, but show me where the RED LAUNCH BUTTON IS!
First it was an employee cracking up in a stranger than life murder/suicide plot unfolded over the weekend with a HIGH RANKING employee at Entergy's Indian Point Nuclear Reactors. Now it seems that Indian Point's leaking spent fuel pools have even BIGGER PROBLEMS as employees located a brittling, aging fuel rod that had splintered apart. Calls to Indian Point's public relations chimp, Larry Gottlieb went unanswered, and our dear Mr Sheets was/is on vacation, so we elevated our inquiry to NRC's Region 1.
We spoke with Diane in the Public Affairs office at (610 337 5330), and it was clear from the very start that she was UNCOMFORTABLE discussing fractured, breaking spent fuel rods, and the incident at Indian Point. We got an elaborate, round about no comment that provided some insights. First, Entergy/Indian Point has 45 days to submit an event report! Such a long period of time is allowed in the hopes the public will have forgotten about the event by the time they divulge WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, and they can sweep it under the carpet.
As Diane and I did our dance, me trying to nail her down, her trying to give up nothing, some things became clear, most important of them, that the incident today at Indian Point is not one of and isolated nature. Seems that spent fuel rods have been BREAKING APART at other nuclear reactor storage pools around America. Seems that the NRC has a committee studying this very issue, which led me to ask what I thought a fair question..."if there is a committee studying this very issue Diane, could I get a list of the incidents that have occurred?" I got a TOO QUICK..."There is NO LIST, WE DO NOT KEEP LISTS" answer. I quipped back to her, "Then how is a committee studying this very issue if you do not keep lists?" She was NOT HAPPY.
I fenced with Diane a bit longer, pointing out that old brittle spent fuel rods breaking apart could bring into serious questions the structural stability and safety of the entire dense packed racking system, but she of course WAS NOT WANTING TO HEAR IT, so I got off the phone with her and called up the NRC Chairman's office to see if they would be more forthcoming...seems they are not overly concerned with press deadlines....especially those of a blogger they are not overly fond of. The Chairman's assistant has promised to have someone GET BACK TO ME early next week...early being before next Wednesday.
On a sidebar issue...seems that Congressman John Hall will make an appearance at next Friday's Indian Point summit, but needs to head out by 3:15 PM to be in New York City for an evening short, he'll be there for the industry leaders, but is skipping out on the all important CITIZENS portion of the event to be held at 6:30 PM. The Green Nuclear Butterfly is attending this Indian Point summit, and have requested interview time with John Hall...we will see what happens.
Indian Point: Cracked fuel rod discovered; no danger to public


(Original publication: February 23, 2007)
- Indian Point workers (Think murder/suicide.) discovered a cracked fuel rod in the spent fuel pool of Indian Point 2 this morning, causing them to stop a routine inspection so they could determine the extent of the damage and what repairs are needed. Details of how serious this is will not be known for around 45 days.

The action did not necessitate the shutdown of the nuclear power plant.

A spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates Indian Point, said there was no rise in radiological dose levels around the rod and no danger to the public.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission resident inspectors are monitoring the pool and the repair. The agency also said there was no evidence of a radiological release in the spent fuel pool area.

The broken pieces stayed underwater, which is how the old fuel is normally shielded from workers.

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