Turkey Point Nuclear in Florida Dumping Steam to Atmosphere After Hurricane Irma

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All the drama and buildup to Hurricane Irma, surrounding the threatened nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, but the real news happens after the hurricane.

I wrote the following in the comments section in response to a gov nuclear guy who wants this to be “no big deal” but it could be.

 I think I have the Turkey Point 4 mysterious shutdown partly figured out.

Turkey Point 4 has a refueling outage 10-31-17.    They would do anything to not have to shut that reactor down, along with the increased inspections, review of all the service interval documentation, and most likely, the NRC finding that FPL was non compliant on some important issues, and would therefore not let them restart.    FPL would rather save this non-compliant work items for the shutdown.   

They also don’t need any bad press at this time, I read somewhere that they go to trial in October for the ongoing tritium contamination that they have been busted on, after they knew about for years and did not report it.

Basically, they would have done anything not to shut this reactor down.   Once a plant is shutdown, and has many problems, there is a decent chance that it is shut down forever.

So even when they noticed the water levels dropping in the steam generator, they were trying to come up with some type of fix in order to avoid the SCRAM.   While they were trying, the automatic systems initiated the SCRAM.    It is much better to SCRAM from a lower output level, lower temperatures.    SCRAMing from a high output puts a lot more shock on the system, again, not just putting more wear and tear on everything, but increasing the chance of something really going wrong.   They SCRAMed from 88%, a high level, and curious why it was not 100%.

They claimed it was a manual SCRAM, but this is not credible for the reasons above.   

RFO schedules

A reporter from World Nuclear News contacted plant operators and got the information on how the plant had auto SCRAMed itself.    Whoever they talked to “did not get the memo” that the NRC was going to report that it was a “manual SCRAM” meaning that they were really in control of the situation.


Unit 4 shut down automatically on the evening of 10 September


Ah, but you miss the main points:
1) Plant was running at 88% prior to “manual scram”, which I believe to be an automatic SCRAM but they wanted to pretend they were in control
2) This is coincidental with the hurricane and shutdown of the other reactor.   This is suspicious of a more important underlying problem
3) FPL made it a point to have NRC state there are no know major problems with the steam generators.   Which makes me think the lady doth protest too much…why belabour this point, unless of course there was leakage, and therefore cross contamination and thus radiological release.   The original steam generators only lasted 8 years, they were replaced around 1982, so the new set is now 35 years old.   hmmmmmmm


Also FPL’s 2014 attempt to cover up a steam leak on this aging plant is duly noted.   They pretended their shutdown was a “pre-planned evolution”


Pressure to max out profits from this aging plants are clear cut as shown by the 2008 outage…

David Hoffman, a nuclear supervisor at Turkey Point, resigned over the incident and was subsequently sued by Florida Power and Light for return of a bonus. Hoffman countersued, claiming he was pressured to restart the reactors while they were in a condition which in his judgment made it unsafe to do so. Upper management wanted the reactors restarted during xenon dead time, which would have led to the operators at the controls having to continuously step control rods to safely manage reactor output.



Sequence of NRC reports:
NRC Friday Event Notifications
Turkey Point (3,4) 52952
Thursday 23:14 – NWS Hurricane Warning issued
Friday 00:06 – Notification – Emergency Declared/Offsite Notification
Friday (no time specified) ‘Updated’ – no indication of what was updated
(Convenient notification Friday at 00:06 ensures it won’t be seen by public until Monday)
NRC Monday NRC notifications
Turkey Point (3,4) 52952
Identical notification appears again
Turkey Point (4) 52960

Sunday 18:55 Reactor only running at 88% for some unknown reason

– failure of loop 4C Steam Generator main feed regulating valve
– Loop 4C S/G [Steam Generator] water levels drop
– Emergency Operating Procedures initiated
– Manual trip of reactor from 88% PWR (?)
– Auxiliary Feed Water initiated as designed [normal response]
– restored S/G water level
– Emergency Operation Procedures exited
– returned to General Operating Procedures
– Reactor at 0% PWR; in Hot Standby
For the textually challenged (me) here’s a diagram:

The blue juice in one of the 4 steam generators go too low, so they pumped more in. The red juice got angry at all the commotion so the operators shut the reactor down. The reactor operators don’ t like it when the red juice wants to leave the containment building and comes to visit them.
Unusual that reactor was at 88% – something else was happening that they’re not saying.

Either the manual scram (if unplanned, i.e., not part of planned shutdown) or the activation of the steam generator aux. feedwater system would have required reporting.
The steam generator main feedwater valve is stuck/closed/secrewed up, so they can’t run steam through the turbines, cool it down and pump it back into the steam generators through that valve like normal. That’e the normal route for the secondary steam loop. Instead, they’re pumping auxiliary water into the steam generator thorough a different valve, and then just dumping the steam produced into the air outside the plant. That steam/water *shouldn’t* be radioactive like the primary loop steam/water, but isn’t completely radiation-free, either.
In any case, the reactor doesn’t care as long as the steam generators are removing enough heat from the primary loop reactor water. That’s the red loop in the diagram that goes in/out the 4 steam generators’ U-tubes.

At Browns Ferry they have 3 reactors, and they lost their cooling towers, not good.   But they appear to keep running at 100% even though  the operation is a critical portion of the safety system, and if one other component failed, they would have a radiation release.


“At 1000 EDT on September 9, 2017, the Division 2 Mechanical Draft Cooling Tower (MDCT) fans were declared inoperable due to failure of the over speed fan brake inverter. The brakes prevent fan over speed from a design basis tornado. The MDCT fans are required to support operability of the Ultimate Heat Sink (UHS). The UHS is required to support operability of the Division 2 Emergency Equipment Cooling Water (EECW) system. The EECW system cools various safety related components, including the High Pressure Coolant Injection (HPCI) system room cooler. An unplanned HPCI inoperability occurred based on a loss of the HPCI Room Cooler. Investigation into why the Division 2 MDCT fan over speed brake inverter failed is in progress. This report is being made pursuant to 10CFR50.72(b)(3)(v)(D) as a condition that at the time of discovery could have prevented the fulfillment of a safety function needed to mitigate the consequences of an accident based on a loss of a single train safety system.”

The licensee entered two (2) LCO Action Statements (AS); 14-day LCO AS 3.5.1 for ECCS (HPCI Inoperable) and 72-hour AS 3.7.2 for UHS. The licensee has two spare inverters on-site. After replacement and successful post-maintenance testing the licensee expects to exit both AS before 72-hours.

The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified.

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Power Reactor Event Number: 52959
Region: 2 State: AL
Unit: [1] [2] [3]
RX Type: [1] GE-4,[2] GE-4,[3] GE-4
Notification Date: 09/10/2017
Notification Time: 20:45 [ET]
Event Date: 09/10/2017
Event Time: 11:51 [CDT]
Last Update Date: 09/10/2017
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
50.72(b)(3)(v)(A) – POT UNABLE TO SAFE SD
50.72(b)(3)(v)(B) – POT RHR INOP
50.72(b)(3)(v)(C) – POT UNCNTRL RAD REL
50.72(b)(3)(v)(D) – ACCIDENT MITIGATION
Person (Organization):

Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
1 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
2 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
3 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation

My suspicion was correct, it was an automatic SCRAM from 88%. If they wanted a more controlled manual SCRAM they would have taken it to 30% or so.


Two nuclear units at St Lucie were able to continue operating as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida. One unit at Turkey Point was shut down as a precaution in advance of the storm as nuclear operators and regulators put storm preparation procedures into action, while the other shut down automatically because of a valve-related issue.