Update On Oyster Creek & Salem Nuclear Plant Status

Oyster Creek has been without any information most of the day from either the NRC or the operator. The NRC did release some information late this afternoon.

NRC reports “Shutdown cooling and spent fuel pool cooling have been restored.” They do not clarify if this is just the electrical power to these systems or if these systems have access to the ultimate heat sink (the river) by way of the pumps & intake systems down by the river that have been flooded by storm surge. So we still do not know for sure if Oyster Creek has functioning access to the ultimate heat sink via the normal pumping systems. Entergy claimed via Reuters that a temporary pump was brought in in case it was needed. Since the public has no access to plant data like we do from Japan for Fukushima there is no way to ascertain exactly what the situation is based on the NRC’s vague statement.

Via the news media an NRC spokesman said the water level had receded to 5.7 feet by 2:15pm EST. This is still above the alert initiation level of 4.7 feet.
High tides will impact this as will water runoff as waters gradually recede. Water level inside the reactor was 584.7 inches as of the last NRC report, no data has been given for the spent fuel pool such as water levels or a temperature.

The NRC reports that due to the plant running on diesel power for over 8 hours caused a “valid RPS actuation” and containment isolation. This also caused reactor cooling to be temporarily lost but was restarted at some point. Contrary to what Exelon and many in the nuclear industry have been telling the public all day, a shut down reactor does need constant cooling to deal with the decay heat from the fuel remaining in the reactor. The NRC referred to this as “shutdown cooling”.

The NRC report for Salem nuclear plant gives no new information. Unit 1 lost access to the ultimate heat sink (the river) as the intakes became clogged with debris and rising river water. All 6 “condenser circulators” were eventually lost and the auxilary feedwater pumps and the venting of non-reactor water steam to the atmosphere was used to deal with the rapid shutdown and cooling of the reactor. There is no further report if Salem unit 1 is still using emergency systems to cool the reactor or if they have managed to regain access to the ultimate heat sink (the river) to cool the reactor. This is an incredibly risky situation for a plant to be in with the total loss of access to the main water source. We do not know the current status of Salem or any data such as the heat and water levels inside the reactor.

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