WBEZ | nuclear plant http://www.wbez.org/tags/nuclear-plant Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Regulator signs off on threatened Nebraska nuclear plant http://www.wbez.org/story/regulator-signs-threatened-nebraska-nuclear-plant-88392 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-27/Nebraska nuclear plant_Reuters_Lane Hickenbottom.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>BROWNVILLE, Neb, June 26 (Reuters) - A top regulator said on Sunday that a nuclear power plant threatened by flooding from the swollen Missouri River was operating safely and according to standards.</p><p>"I got to see a lot of efforts they're taking to deal with flooding and the challenges that presents," Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said after touring the Cooper Nuclear Station near the village of Brownville and meeting with plant officials and executives.</p><p>"Right now, we think they're taking an appropriate approach. This is a plant that is operating safely and meeting our standards," he added.</p><p>The plant is located about 80 miles south of Omaha, where snow melt and heavy rains have forced the waters of the Missouri River over its banks, although they have not flooded the plant and receded slightly on Sunday.</p><p>Jaczko said he was not doing an official plant inspection. He was briefed by NRC resident inspectors -- the agency staff who work on-site every day -- plant officials and executives, said Mark Becker, a spokesman at the Nebraska Public Power District, the agency that runs the plant.</p><p>The power plant sat about 4 feet above the river's level on Sunday. The river had surged over its banks near the plant and filled in low-lying land near the Cooper plant.</p><p>Water levels there are down after upstream levees failed, Becker said, relieving worries that water will rise around the Brownville plant as it has at another nuclear plant north of Omaha in Fort Calhoun.</p><p>Art Zaremba, director of nuclear safety at Cooper, backed the assessment.</p><p>"The plant is very safe right now, and we've taken a lot of steps to make sure it stays that way," Zaremba said.</p><p>Residents near the plant were largely unconcerned about any potential safety risks from flooding ahead of Jaczko's visit.</p><p>"I just don't think the water is going to get that high," said Brownville resident Kenny Lippold, a retired carpenter who has been following each step of the flood preparations in this riverside village of 148 residents.</p><p>"They claim that they are going to keep operating," Lippold said, adding that he will not flee his home of 29 years even though it is less than a mile from the Cooper reactor.</p><p>Local shop owner Katy Morgan, 28, said her fears have been assuaged by information she has received via plant officials, who give out emergency radio equipment to residents within a 10-mile radius of the Cooper plant.</p><p>"I know everybody freaks out when they talk about nuclear," said Morton, who runs a boutique on Brownville's main thoroughfare. "I suppose if there was a drastic increase in the river I would be concerned. If they say 'evacuate' then I would be concerned," Morton said.</p><p>Jaczko will visit on Monday the Fort Calhoun plant in the town of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, about 20 miles north of Omaha, an agency official said.</p><p>Flood water up to 2-feet deep is standing on the site of the 478-megawatt Fort Calhoun plant, which will stay shut down until the water recedes, the NRC said.</p><p>On Sunday afternoon, workers accidentally deflated an auxiliary berm at the plant, said Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson.</p><p>Hanson said the "aqua dam" was a supplemental measure that provided workers "more freedom" but was not essential to keeping the plant dry.</p><p>"The plant itself is still protected," Hanson said. Floodwater would need to rise over 7 feet to flow over the berms and enter the plant, Hanson said, adding that the supplemental dam was not in original flood prevention plans.</p><p>An NRC inspection at Fort Calhoun two years ago indicated deficiencies in the flood preparation area, which have now been remedied, the agency said.</p></p> Mon, 27 Jun 2011 15:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/regulator-signs-threatened-nebraska-nuclear-plant-88392 Map: Chicago-area nuclear power plants at a glance http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-16/map-chicago-area-nuclear-power-plants-glance-83819 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-16/Nuke Plant in Byron IL_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A series of nuclear reactor fires and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in Fukushima, Japan has put nuclear power back in the spotlight around the globe.</p><p>And few states are as central to the discussion of nuclear power in the United States as Illinois.&nbsp; Illinois is home to seven nuclear power plants, six of which are still in active operation.&nbsp; Add in Wisconsin, and Southwest Michigan and there are 10 nuclear power facilities located within the greater region, both current and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/business/23nuke.html">decommissioned</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Many of the plants contain more than one nuclear reactor, making Illinois home to more nuclear reactors than any other state in the nation.</p><p>All of the plants in this region went into operation between 1971 and 1988, and use a variety of reactor types.</p><p>As Shawn Allee noted in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/energy/how-closely-related-are-reactors-illinois-and-japan">a recent story on wbez.org</a>, four of the reactors at two different plants - Quad Cities and Dresden - are GE Mark I, the same reactor type in use at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.</p><p>The map below provides a look at the facilities, their locations, and their operating details.&nbsp;</p> <object height="300" width="500" id="umapper_embed" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,0,0" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000"><param value="kmlPath=http://umapper.s3.amazonaws.com/maps/kml/93823.kml" name="FlashVars" /><param value="always" name="allowScriptAccess" /><param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><param value="http://umapper.s3.amazonaws.com/templates/swf/embed.swf" name="movie" /><param value="high" name="quality" /><embed height="300" width="500" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" name="umapper_embed" quality="high" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" flashvars="kmlPath=http://umapper.s3.amazonaws.com/maps/kml/93823.kml" src="http://umapper.s3.amazonaws.com/templates/swf/embed.swf"></embed></object></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 20:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-16/map-chicago-area-nuclear-power-plants-glance-83819 Are reactors in Japan related to those in Illinois? http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/energy/how-closely-related-are-reactors-illinois-and-japan <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-15/quad cities.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The nuclear situation in Japan is still developing and you might wonder: Does Illinois have the same kind of nuclear reactors?</p><p>Yes, we do. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission &ndash; nuclear power plants&rsquo; primary regulator &ndash; the reactors that have been venting gas and radioactive steam are boiling water reactors with Mark I containment, commonly called Mark I BWRs. There&rsquo;re 23 of these in the United States, and Illinois is home to four of them. The Quad Cities Generating Station northeast of Moline has two Mark I BWRs (GE BWR-3 models with some modifications). Another pair (GE BWR-3 models) resides at Dresden Generating Station, southwest of Joliet.</p><p>The reactors&rsquo; owner, Exelon, and the NRC say there&rsquo;s no cause for concern: Illinois&rsquo; nuclear reactors are humming along normally. But the fact that Illinois reactors haven&rsquo;t been affected by catastrophic floods or earthquakes doesn&rsquo;t satisfy critics of the nuclear industry. They point out that the 40-year-old design has a fundamental shortcoming common to reactors of their age; if left alone, reactors can remain hot for days or even weeks after they&rsquo;re shut down.</p><p>Typically, station operators will cool a reactor by circulating water throughout its container, but the process requires electricity &ndash; from the grid, batteries or backup generators. When power&rsquo;s not available, there&rsquo;s no way to pump water and it&rsquo;s possible that a reactor&rsquo;s core can melt, burn through containers and, following that, release radioactive gas, steam and smoke into the air.&nbsp;In Japan, the tsunami knocked out power in a wide region, and backup diesel generators did not perform properly.&nbsp;</p><p>NRC documents suggest the likelihood of a repeat situation in Illinois is low. Power stations are expected to survive earthquakes that are at least as strong as the last recorded tremor. Stations are also expected to survive major floods. NRC documents show the Quad Cities plant should be able to shut down safely in the presence of a 1,000-year deluge, and the station made it through 1993&rsquo;s massive flood along the Mississippi River. The Dresden station is expected to survive any flooding along the nearby Illinois River.</p><p>The U.S. has never had an accident on the scale of what we're seeing in Japan, and the lower-level incidents we have had did not involve Mark I BWRs. Still,&nbsp;the nuclear industry hopes to build new reactors that are less susceptible to meltdowns than 60s-era devices. Some designs employ so-called passive cooling, which would allow reactors to dissapate reactor heat without backup power. None has ever been built in the U.S., though there&rsquo;re several in the planning stage.</p><p>Exelon didn&rsquo;t answer questions about whether it intends to replace Illinois&rsquo; Mark I BWRs (which have been running for four decades) with new reactors that have passive cooling systems. But decisions made by the company suggest it has no intention of swapping new reactors for old ones. The Chicago-based company asked for &ndash; and received &ndash; permission to run one of the Dresden reactors until 2029. Permission to operate the station&rsquo;s other reactor runs out in 2031. The company can operate both Quad City reactors until 2032. The company is also investing millions in technology that would wring more power out of all four Mark I reactors.</p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/energy/how-closely-related-are-reactors-illinois-and-japan