The NRC has proven to be rather useless throughout hurricane Sandy and the aftermath as the public tries to find information about the status of the damaged nuclear plants in the US east coast.
Platts provided detailed information about what happened at Salem unit 1. Waves on the river were high enough to hit the water recirculation building. Five of the six water pumps inside were damaged. All six were considered inoperable in what the NRC called “high river level” and detritus from the hurricane. The NRC has not informed the public of the water pump damage at Salem. These pumps are a key system for a nuclear reactor. These pumps sit near the river and pump water from the river into the intake canals or pipes that then deliver that water to the condensers that transfer heat from the reactor water pipes and return hot water to the river. Without these riverside water pumps the reactor must rely on emergency systems to keep the reactor cool.
One pump had been repaired, the other four are being repaired. The operator stated Wednesday morning they hoped to have them repaired today. They have no prediction of when the plant may restart. The plant was running at 100% during a hurricane and lost the cooling system. So far they have managed the reactor on emergency systems. Salem will be on emergency cooling systems until all of the pumps can be repaired and the intakes cleared of debris. As of today the NRC is classifying the loss of the ultimate heat sink (cooling water) access at Salem to be a non-emergency
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