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Irene and the Indian Point Twins

by nb41 Fri Aug 26th, 2011 at 12:27:56 PM EST

Hurricane Irene is now on track to "beach-sweep" much of the US Eastern shore, from North Carolina to Maine, and it looks like it's final destination is to come ashore near NY City and then cruise on up the Hudson River, dumping massive amounts of rain. It will most likely do this when tides are maxed out due to a full moon.

The Hudson River normally gets tidal action almost all the way to Albany, and sometimes there are "standing waves" that are discernible some distance up the River. But, 10 foot plus storm surges from a major hurricane that coincide with a full moon tide - not good. There will be a lot of waterfront and riverfront damaged - and perhaps a lot of the Amtrak rails that connect NYC to Albany and Montreal are going to get water and other damage.

But, all that is chump change when one considers what is sitting on the waterfront 38 miles north of midtown Manhattan - the Indian Point nuclear complex. These are two big reactors (about 1300 MW and 1100 MW) that supplied NYC with about 1863.1 MW of electricity (on average) last year. This wikipedia link wikipedia link has a nifty picture of these twin potential doom engines for a large part of the NYC metro region, with about 30 million or  more people in "internal tanning range".

Anyway, when massive water walls of water interact with sea-level situated nukes, the results can be ...not good. Then lets take a water-sodden ground and intense wind gusts associated with a big area hurricane going onshore, and lots of grid damage can happen. And when a grid connection happens combined with a back-up diesel system fails to activate, you get a "Loss of Cooling Accident" or LOCA. That is NEVER a good thing. And if that continues for more than a few hours, well, the stinky stuff really hits the proverbial fan. That is really bad, and is NOT supposed to ever happen. But it has happened before...

So, maybe that site should just be put into shutdown mode pronto, control rods fully inserted in both nukes, and get those back-up diesels activated. If they don't work as they should right away (and that has also happened, more than once, at places like the Fermi 2 nuke in Michigan), maybe they will be working by the time Irene comes to town. And maybe they ought to get more back-up gen-sets lined up in case the back-up diesels get swamped, or some other Black Swan event rears its ugly head, care of Mr. Murphy and his nefarious laws.

What do you think about that idea?


Just what we needed...

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 03:24:06 AM EST
Interesting -- I would like to learn more about the
water level and topography of the area. Any pointers ?

Now what ?
by pi (etribu-at-opsec.eu) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 03:29:12 AM EST
There's Flood Maps, originally developed to look at sea level rise from global warming...

Though the view of Indian Point

in Buchanan, New York just south of Peekskill
is inconclusive...

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 03:57:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From playing with that earlier, I remember that it is not that good outside of coastal ocean areas. I think it simply adds higher water to ocean level, so if you have a river it is upstreams often already higher then the ocean is (thus explaining the water running downstreams). So it is not a realistic simulation of rivers increasing.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 06:07:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes indeed, it's a simple mashup that adds a constant to Google's terrain altitudes.

A full hydrological simulation would be a whole other thing. You'd need a full set of USGS data and some fancy modelling tools.

But Irene is currently weakening, and seems unlikely to pick up power again. So it's looking like the damage may not be as bad as everyone hoped for expected.

I have no idea if this means NYC dodged a nuclear bullet. So I'll just mention again that whatever happens is going to be clear proof that windmills are a DFH conspiracy to raise your taxes.

That's all.

Oh - and if Irene doesn't push the water over the walls, it's almost certain some other event will by the end of the century.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 07:51:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found this photo...

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 08:02:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a different Indian Point, in Maine. The Indian Point power station is on a sand bar in the Hudson river on the east side, in Buchanan. There's nothing secret about it--plenty of places where you can get good photos.

FEMA publishes flood maps for the entire country; here's the one for that area.http://map1.msc.fema.gov/idms/IntraView.cgi?ROT=0&O_X=7044&O_Y=3622&O_ZM=0.077294&O_ SX=1088&O_SY=560&O_DPI=400&O_TH=55896125&O_EN=55874632&O_PG=1&O_MP=1&CT= 0&DI=0&WD=14400&HT=10350&JX=1227&JY=620&MPT=0&MPS=0&ACT=1&KEY=55 895597&ITEM=1&PICK_VIEW_CENTER.x=552&PICK_VIEW_CENTER.y=303&R1=VIN

It's a viewer and might not work right especially over a slow link. Basically it shows the "100 year" flood zone, more properly called the 1% annual recurrence probability event zone. The flood zone doesn't impinge on the nukes.

These maps are made using field data collected over the years by on-site measurements, then calculated using the HEC-HMS and associated hydrological simulation programs.

Normally, flooding is caused by rainwater draining from higher elevations, and while the modeling tools can accommodate the effect of blockages that cause reductions in downstream flow, I don't know if they actually account for upstream flow from a storm surge.

by asdf on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 10:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by asdf on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 10:50:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Viewer doesn't work by a simple cut-and-paste of links. Easy to play with here...

http://www.msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/FemaWelcomeView?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001& amp;langId=-1

by asdf on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 10:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In which case you might care to read these two Orange diaries and scare yourself a little more;-

Risk of Catastrophic Release of Radioactivity From Spent Fuel Ponds Greater in US than at Fukushima

What would a Chernobyl or Fukushima disaster at Indian Point mean?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 08:03:47 AM EST
SF Gate: Nuclear Reactors on East Coast Brace for Hurricane Irene's Wrath (Bloomberg)
Nuclear plants in Irene's path continued to operate as workers secured loose equipment, checked diesel fuel supplies for backup generators and stowed cots and food for workers who may be stranded during the storm.

At Dominion Resources Inc.'s Millstone nuclear station, which sits on a narrow peninsula in the Long Island Sound near Waterford, Connecticut, workers were examining flood barriers and submarine doors designed to keep reactors dry from a hurricane's storm surge.


The storm's winds pose a greater threat to the switch yards and power lines that support a nuclear plant than the reactors themselves, which sit beneath containment structures of steel- reinforced concrete, Alex Marion, vice president of nuclear operations for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, said in an interview.

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 08:04:40 AM EST
They scare people on a daily bases (economy, wars, riots, you name it...) so are we in danger to become addicted to fear? We are already addicted to stress (usual daily stress and all sorts of other stress) and now we have this constant fear ...It seems to be boring to live normal life nowadays.
I do not know anything about topic but Irene seems to be category one now and it probably will not be catastrophic event.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 09:42:39 AM EST
I doubt it would terrify New Orleans or Gulf Port residents, for sure, but codes don't require the same degree of wind load performance for buildings in New Jersey, New York, and New England as on the Gulf Coast.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 01:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same for earthquake proofing, BTW.
by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 09:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
August 26, 2011

New Orleans, La. - Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point Energy Center in New York, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts and Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vermont are continuing to track Hurricane Irene's path and potential for high winds and rainfall as the storm approaches New York and New England.

"Our nuclear plants are designed and built to withstand extreme weather," said John Herron, president and CEO of Entergy Nuclear. "Our team of expert personnel worked diligently this past week to ensure our plants are prepared for any impacts resulting from this storm."

Entergy employees at each site began preparing for the storm earlier this week and work is continuing to ensure each plant is prepared for the worst conditions the storm is expected to deliver.

Under severe weather procedures, plant operators monitoring area wind speeds may actually take precautionary actions to begin shutting the plants down prior to those winds reaching the site.

http://www.safesecurevital.com/newsroom/press-releases/entergy-nuclear-facilities-continue-preparati ons-for-hurricane-irene/
by asdf on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 10:36:18 AM EST
If there is even one diesel generator that fails to start heads should roll. They can't say they didn't have time to get prepared.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 01:17:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least one nuke plant was shut down before the storm hit New Jersey, Oyster Creek.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 05:36:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oldest plant in the US, Exelon-owned. They made a deal with the local pols not to request a 20 year lifetime extension, instead opting for a 10 year one, and in return were promised there would be no bitching and moaning.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 08:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fear fear fear.

Our new heroin.

And we're still afraid of cannabis.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 03:21:18 AM EST
You're joking of course.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 04:14:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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