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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Not just Fukushima, Pilgrim Nuclear plant still open long after planned life

The Cape Cod Times reports:

" the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth is off line due to several equipment malfunctions following an emergency shutdown (known as a “scram”) during the blizzard of Jan. 27. The initial shutdown is thought to be due to a loss of offsite power to the plant resulting from the storm." []

But the issue is that with an ailing Power Plant like the Pilgrim plant, there is always an unnerving "rest of the story:"

"The station experienced several equipment issues in the course of cooling down following the scram. These included the station diesel air compressor which failed to start, a safety relief valve that could not be operated manually from the control room, and the failure of a gland seal motor that provides high-pressure coolant injection. This does not inspire confidence." [cape cod times]

Dr. James Garb reports:

“Inspectors determined that corrective actions identified to improve performance in this area have not been effective. Ultimately, inspectors determined that your actions in total did not provide the assurance level required to meet inspection objectives and represent a significant weakness.” [cape cod times]

The inspectors were saying in their technical speak that the plant is in bad shape and their fix efforts were not doing the trick. The plant has multiple systems in fail or near fail mode. Dr. Garb concludes:

“If the NRC is concerned, we should be concerned as well. Pilgrim is in our back yard. As everyone knows, a disaster at Pilgrim would leave Cape Cod residents with no viable evacuation option. The handwriting on the wall could not be clearer. How many of these events will we tolerate before a situation occurs at the plant that can’t be contained? Pilgrim should be closed now before a perfect storm of an aging, failing plant, poor maintenance of critical systems, and a deficient safety culture result in a serious radiation leak that could alter life on Cape Cod for generations to come.” [cape cod times]

There are dozens of plants in the same condition around the country. They are ticking time bombs. They all need to be shut down or at the minimum completely refurbished. A failure of containment means a Fukushima style meltdown, and places like Pilgrim are old and at the point where maintenance requires pretty much everything be replaced. They are like a 1960 Buick someone has been driving on the road for the past 65 years and using chewing gum and duct tape to fix. In some cases they are older than 1960.

You may want to read the referenced article at:

The following poem is editorial and metaphorical about what happens if nothing is done:

"The Pilgrim's Rock melted down.
It sank it's molten teeth deep in the ground.
Then came the pilgrims looking for a place to stay.
But it was too hot for them to want to anyway.
No turkey, no edible potatoes, no cranberry sauce.
They picked up their Anchor and sailed away"

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