RE: CA nuke plant's emergency cooling system failure went unnoticed
Thank you - I now feel officially dumber for reading this. Not only do you quote nothing but biased, non-technical news agencies and staunch anti-nuclear groups who hide behind junk science to support their refutable claims about safety, design and operation of nuclear plants, you fail miserably in injecting anything of practical value to allow for education to occur.
Personal experience has allowed me the unique perspective of understanding both the inherent dangers and safety of nuclear plants as I have worked in several of them for over 20 years.
Your first comment couldn't be further from the truth and is, in fact, so ridiculously irresponsible, that I would be scared hearing it if I didn't know better. A little scientific research without bias leaning would net you enough information to know better than to insinuate that DCPP was without a means to keep the core cool in an emergency. This system you speak was not the most critical system for core cooling and would not have prevented the plant from safely cooling the core to below 200F as required per tech specs (design basis documents).
2nd, until all seismic retrofitting could be implemented (at the cost of billions of dollars), neither DCPP's Unit 1 or 2 could go online and become operational until 1985 & 1986, respectively. During that time, with certification from state and federal agencies, the plant was beefed up to withstand worst-case or what's called in the industry, design-basis, accidents including a 7.2 earthquake from nearby Hosgri fault (considered at the time of seismic re-design to be the most influential fault).
If you have no idea what this means, just know that every system - piping, mechanical, electrical, etc, was fortified with dampers, snubbers, pipe support mounts - you name it, it was installed to allow for systems to withstand the vibrations, swaying, shock and other oscillations associated with earthquakes.
You speak of human error as being the hidden, grotesque relative no one speaks of, but since it's operation begin, PG&E and DCPP have always maintained an openness to disclosure of mistakes of design or operations, including any violations of tech specs by reporting these as soon as they are discovered and a willingness to quickly resolve these issues. Name one industry with that kind of transparency - you will hard pressed to find one that is so bound to public and plant safety, that they are willing to take heat from the public disclosure, because it's the right thing to do. Of course, as common sense would tell us, no industry is 100% error-free, but in my experience, nuclear operations at DCPP come as close as it gets. It's not just a matter of having to, it's a matter of choice. Everyone that works there believes in that philosophy, from the top exec down to the union laborer.
You mentioned the swarm of jellyfish causing the unit(s) to be taken offline. That is by design, and is the safe thing to do, when you have a large differential pressure across the traveling screens which are used to filter out debris such as this or kelp in most cases. As a safety precaution, the plants are reduced in power, in fact, when a huge storm is approaching which produces a large surge and liberates a bunch of kelp, as this would also clog the intake screens. It's happened before and is always safely dealt with. Every event real or imagined has been taken into account and in most cases, where possible, practiced in simulated emergency scenarios. Again, public and plant safety are paramount.
Your comment about significant defects uncovered in the 1980s is deplorable as I will refer to the above mentioned seismic retrofitting to allow certification for operations. By no means did the NRC overlook this and just continue to "allow" the plant to run. How irresponsible as a journalist can you be?
Oh I know - comparing the Fukushima plant and event to Diablo Canyon as a direct one-to-one correlation. Yes they are both plants using nuclear fuel to product steam and drive turbines and yes, they are both situated on coasts near fault lines, but the differences are huge. DCPP has redundant systems that exceed design basis and are newer in design and scope than those at Fukushima. These systems are tested constantly, procedures are followed to the letter and very accurate records are kept as to their operation and maintenance. While this report of a misconfiguration of a safety system which rendered it ineffective is troubling, it is not the norm and far from it AND still would not have led to the type and scope of disaster that happened in the Japanese plant.
Nuclear power makes up ~ 20% of electricity produced in the US - a very significant part and an effective way to reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based electricity production. It's important to note that as electricity demand increases, just blindly saying we can generate enough power with renewable resources to effectively manage the growth is again irresponsible. Creating fear, uncertainty and doubt by reporting erroneous, misleading or incomplete information is tantamount to the Salem witch trials. You're teaching people to fear that which they do not fully understand. It would be better to provide a meaningful well-balanced approach, taking into account facts which can't be provided from just the sources such as the ones you quote.