Attacking Nuclear Plants, Part II

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 1 week ago

Via WRSA, this dumb commentary was seen.

What actually happened was:

At 11:11 AM Moscow time (about an hour ago) the authorities of Zaporozhye Region announced that Zaporozhskaya AES is under control of the Russian forces.

At 6:20 AM Moscow time the fire at the administrative building at Zaporozhskaya AES was extinguished with no casualties. It was probably set on purpose to create the media picture of “Europe’s largest nuke plant on fire!”

At 5:36 AM Moscow time the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that the fire in the area of Zaporozhskaya AES did not affect any of the main equipment at the plant.

At 4:47 AM Moscow time president Zelensky goes live to announce that the Russians are trying to create a new Chernobyl. A likely story, that.

Between 3:51 AM and 3:59 AM Moscow time fire crews were on site putting out the fire. Apparently, there wasn’t a lot for them to do.

Between 2:00 AM and 3:30 AM Moscow time there was a shootout at the power plant’s administrative building. Somehow it resulted in a fire at the administrative building.

So much for a new Chernobyl.

He has no idea what happened.  He just made that up.

Unless there is a failure investigation team on site, running fault tree analysis and MORT evaluations, and unless that team has access to event recorder logs dumping to computer point IDs (and retrievable and uncompressed), no one at the moment knows the sequence of events.  I know.  I’ve done these evaluations before for both routine events and accidents.

No one said it was a new Chernobyl (at least, one who was has any intelligence and no know who talked to me for an analysis of the situation).

What I said was very specific, and I’ll add to it here.  I suggested that the fire was either in the auxiliary building (the worst place it could be) or the service building.  Fire can spread from building to building and from nuclear unit to nuclear unit.  I further described the accident at Chernobyl at least in basic detail.  At Chernobyl, the test engineer bypassed the electrical control system that is designed to account for the fact that the reactor can have an overall positive power coefficient.  Worse still, the steam explosion blew the building apart, allowing the unmitigated escape of radioactive fission products to the environment and workers (as well as the public).

That was likely not to be exactly the same situation here.  I won’t go on about how an accident might proceed, except to say that it might involve loss of essential power MCCs, loss of emergency power supply D/Gs, loss of SFP cooling equipment, loss of SSCs necessary for the ultimate heat sink, or a host of other things.

The details aren’t the point.  It could have happened.  It was dumb then to shoot at nuclear power plants and it’s still just as dumb today.  Furthermore, regarding fire, American reactors are designed with fire protection in mind.  Here we aren’t talking about fire hoses.  We’re talking about safety train separation.  For example, you can’t have redundant trains of equipment in the same fire zone, or any other component that could lead to a common mode failure.

We have 10 CFR 50 Appendix R for that, or more recently NFPA-805.  I do not know that this plant was designed to that criteria, probably not, and certainly not upgraded to NFPA-805 or other PRA (risk-based) considerations.

Additionally, to say that a fire at the admin building wasn’t significant is stupid because the author is stupid.  Suppose that the EQ engineer has all of his records and calculations in the admin building pertaining to radiation dose to equipment and TLAA (time limited aging analysis).  They now have no capability for traceability of SSCs in the plant as it pertains to aging analysis and required replacement intervals.  From the perspective of EQ, it’s a disaster.

To say that something didn’t happen and fail to acknowledge that it could have is dumb.  That makes the quality of everything else this writer says suspect.

I don’t claim to be a doctor, nurse practitioner, tax accountant or lawyer.  I’m a nuclear engineer and have been one my entire career.  This writer should refrain from making commentary about engineering until he gets education, training and experience.

In other words, stay out of my shop, boob.  Write and ask if you have questions and you may learn something.


Comments

  1. On March 7, 2022 at 12:40 am, Dan said:

    We aren’t likely to ever know with certainty what happened at this nuke plant. The best we can do is monitor for increases in radiation over the next few weeks. That will tell us if there has been serious damage there.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Nuclear,Ukraine and was published March 6th, 2022 by Herschel Smith.

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