Archive for Monday, March 14, 2011

Wolf Creek nuclear power plant officials monitoring situation in Japan

March 14, 2011


The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant, which went online in 1985, is shown in this Jan. 11, 2000, photograph.

The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant, which went online in 1985, is shown in this Jan. 11, 2000, photograph.

Wolf Creek nuclear power plant officials said Monday that they are watching developments in Japan closely to see whether lessons can be learned from the plant disasters occurring there.

“We are closely monitoring it as an industry,” said Jenny Hageman, spokeswoman for the Wolf Creek plant, a 1,200-megawatt facility 52 miles south of Lawrence.

Japanese officials are dealing with crises at several nuclear plants in the wake of the country’s earthquake and tsunami that have left at least 10,000 dead.

Hageman said U.S. nuclear power officials are offering to help Japan.

She said the chance of an earthquake affecting Wolf Creek is much smaller than in Japan. Tornadoes would be the more likely disaster to hit the plant, and Hageman said Wolf Creek’s containment structure can withstand winds of 300 mph.

Wolf Creek is running at 100 percent capacity but will be shut down on Saturday for about seven weeks for scheduled maintenance, which will include the replacement of four giant rotors and turbines. This operation constitutes the largest modification of the plant since it started operating in 1985, she said.

Michael Murray, a nuclear physicist at Kansas University, said Japanese officials are trying their hardest to address the problems, but they face great obstacles.

“The crucial thing at the moment is that the fuel rods be kept under water,” Murray said. “The problem they are having is that the general level of devastation from the tsunami” has hindered their efforts.

Murray said there is no evidence of a rupture in the containment cases at these units.

“What needs to happen now is make sure there is not enough buildup of steam or hydrogen to crack the containment vessel,” he said.


doc1 3 years, 9 months ago

Are they worried a Tsunami might knock out their cooling pump stations? I don't see them having the same problem.

farva 3 years, 9 months ago

The above may be the most ignorant comment ever on this website

Ken Lewis 3 years, 9 months ago

Oh, I dont know. This is how stupid political decisions get made. I would not be surprised if, by this article alone, some KS legislator is considering introducing a bill for a $25 million tsunami warning system for Kansas.

This is ridiculous and it is exaclty how legislation gets passed nowadays. The media dreams up stupid stuff.....politicians bite on it and pass a law by leaveraging potlicial correctness to the hilt....and we pay for it in the midst of a budget crisis. In a way, I think it is all a ruse to just keep increasing taxes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

The one point of consensus that I've heard is that none of these plants will ever operate again.

easyliving 3 years, 9 months ago

Lol....ouch, I just fell out of my chair.

JayhawkVeteran 3 years, 9 months ago

Humm... I thought the problem was at (1) plant and they were dealing with it's 4 reactors.

"Japanese officials are dealing with crises at several nuclear plants"

LogicMan 3 years, 9 months ago

There are other plants with problems, but not nearly as severe as the one in the news with the four units.

notajayhawk 3 years, 9 months ago

"I thought the problem was at (1) plant and they were dealing with it's 4 reactors."

Makes for better "sky is falling" sensationalism. Think they're going to sell newspapers (or commercials on TV news programs) with the headline "It's not that bad"?

scott3460 3 years, 9 months ago

Wouldn't that be job killing, government over regulation of private industry? Just asking.

The no government crowd tells us freeing businesses from the grips of government solves all, so guess we just have to hope the nuclear industry will choose our safety and common sense over the almighty dollar. They have such a great track record of doing so, after all.

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 9 months ago

Indeed. The situation there is horrible but the reactors did remarkably well. There is a lot of nonsense going on right now. It's to be expected, I suppose... but watching the market over the last two days is like watching a herd of sheep. Selling uranium mining and GE stock? That makes sense only if you want to lose money. Personally, I bought and I'd buy more if I had the cash available.

Shardwurm 3 years, 9 months ago

They should worry. My sister was a welding inspector at Wolf Creek when it was being built in the 70s and early 80s and she was stoned most of the time. True story.

password 3 years, 9 months ago

I read that Shardwurm's sister was an inspector not a welder.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

At the time it was being built, I knew quite a few people who worked construction there. They said there was a whole lot of honeycombed concrete that got covered up before it could be inspected. Which means the integrity of the containment vessel is probably less than what it's specced out to be.

LogicMan 3 years, 9 months ago

But since it passed the pressure test, all was fine?

mr_right_wing 3 years, 9 months ago

George W. is responsible for the earthquake, tsunami and possible nuclear meltdown.

He soon may decide to make KU lose. There is no limit to what this man is capable of.

Dan Thalmann 3 years, 9 months ago

I guess I'm still not overly worried about nuclear power. If I lived near a nuclear power plant by the San Andreas fault? Sure. But in Kansas? No problem. I say build two or three more. Safe, clean, inexpensive energy and a huge job boost. What's not to like?

lounger 3 years, 9 months ago

Safe?? How about an F4 or even an F5 tornado? That would do some damage for sure. They are not safe-thats just propaganda being blown up our a*s!

QLyons 3 years, 8 months ago

Not safe??? "designed for 300 mph winds" how many F4's or F5's have 300 mph winds???

SinoHawk 3 years, 9 months ago

I am more impressed by success rather than the failure of the Japanese plants. As of this moment, potentially tens of thousands have been killed by the quake/tsunami, but no significant deaths/injuries have resulted from the power plants hit by a 9.0 quake and tsunami well outside the disasters planned for during the construction of the plants. I hope and pray that the plants don't release any significant amounts of radiation, but their success so far in NOT blowing up is already quite impressive.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

There isn't any success on display here. There's nothing but a wing and a prayer.

SinoHawk 3 years, 9 months ago

What do you mean 'there isn't any success on display here'? The entire island of Honshu was shifted by 8' and the plants were hit with a 33' tsunami and yet there wasn't a catastrophic meltdown! The plant may never run again, and there still appears to be some threat of substantial threat of radiation, but after 96+ hours there is no more threat of the "worst case scenario".

scott3460 3 years, 9 months ago

The "success" of the Japanese nuclear plants is due to the strict government regulation. Such diligence does not seem likely in today's "free the businesses from any regulation" mania in our own right wing captured country.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

So your definition of "success" is an absence of total, catastrophic failure.

That's a distressingly low standard.

mr_right_wing 3 years, 9 months ago

There is a significant portion of Europe that is using nuclear power, as we desperately cling to coal as a baby does a pacifier. It's amazing that we don't hear about meltdowns on a weekly basis , or how Europe is buried in 'nuclear waste'. A nuclear plant puts no co2 in the air and actually puts less radioactive material in the air than coal....but, who cares....

Sean Livingstone 3 years, 9 months ago

No worry, even if all reactors failed, they will never reach the same level like we saw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki... we all learn how to deal with it.. this is just another one.

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

Wolf Creek's original plan did not include long term storage of the rods. The state of the art plants in Japan had containment on the working cores but some did not have containment on the spent rods. It is a good question for Wolf Creek. Are their spent rods protected by containment and how many levels of back up generators and pumping system are there for both the working core and for the spent rods? Any one seeing burning and radiating plants as good news for investing lives a different interior life than I. I wonder where one can get potassium iodide pills. Is there any harm in taking them?

QLyons 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually their spent rods are protected inside a seismically rated building with 3 backup power sources in case of an emergency... seems about as safe as one can get...

ralphralph 3 years, 9 months ago

Oh, Come ON!

Nuclear ... in Kansas .... still clean, safe (yes!), reliable, and domestic.

It's still the right thing. Really.

P.S. .... If they GOP had run a human being against Harry Reid, there would be a chance that the VERY safe Yucca Mountain facility would open, and the public safety would be well served. Now we have to wait for him to die, like Fidel.

Sean Livingstone 3 years, 9 months ago

What is so "domestic" about nuclear? The fuel still comes from overseas. Tell me where you can find uranium in Kansas?

SinoHawk 3 years, 9 months ago

The uranium is only a tiny portion of the expense of generating the electricity, so its origins aren't as critical as, say, oil. Plus, Canada is the world's second largest producer.

I still don't see, however, how nuclear is any more 'domestic' than coal or hydroelectric. (I suppose that solar and wind are both manufactured in China)

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

When someone tells me there is nothing to worry about, just relax, I check to see where my wallet is and then I worry about the poor souls who are reassured by such people, people who offer no legitimate answers to the concerns. Nuclear Power, VERY safe. Now I am reassured. You used caps. I wonder if the spent rods are in a containment field? Those are very expensive. What are the cooling back ups. If you have information on that , use those caps, I won't think less of your message. GET IT? If you just want to repeat your feelings of confidence, I heard you and know your really feel that way.

SinoHawk 3 years, 9 months ago

Good point about the "don't worry, just relax". I have the same reaction about the media's OMG ELEVENTY!!1!1! reaction to every issue that they can use to sell ads ('Summer of the Shark" comes to mind). At this point, the only party with something to gain is the media, since the power co is obviously already in a PR nightmare. I wouldn't want to live around the plant in Japan right now, but the people pushing Americans to go buy Iodine tablets should be ashamed of themselves.

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

I actually want there to be potassium iodide tablets to buy. I don't think having some on hand is over reaction. I have a two tier emergency kit. One a small back pack with ID, cash, water, a few days supplies of the medicine we take, a flash light a couple of tools , a whistle and copies of our ID papers. The second kit is plastic tub with water containers, some food, medicines, a space blanket, tools, change of clothing, soap. a first aid kit.

SinoHawk 3 years, 9 months ago

It is one think to keep tablets handy, but another thing altogether to recommend that the general public take the tablets. Those over 40 are at an increased risk of adverse reaction to the tablets, so taking them without reason (i.e. a nuclear plant 6k miles away) is more likely to cause harm than good.

If you are a fan of keeping an emergency kit handy--more power to you for it.

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you , taking them without cause is harmful to some people. correct dosage and it only helps prevent some thyroid cancers. I don't think we will need them but it isn't bad to have some different medicines. I think water is important and depending on person, medicines. In Kansas it is good to have a water, good shoes, because things happen. I was without electricity for several days several times, tornado, ice storm, flood. While a little uncomfortable. Thanks to my Dad, we had water, food and company.

igby 3 years, 9 months ago

Quaker state of 8.9 in southern Illnois, could make the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers to back up and flood the mid-west into a basin of lake that could cover 7 states in a matter of days. This would be a bell ringer for thought!

BigPrune 3 years, 9 months ago

Meanwhile back at the Whitehouse, the President spent time finishing out his NCAA Tournament bracket before heading off for another round of golf. He was alerted our naval assets pulled back 200 miles from Japan, then he allowed our surgeon general to make a statement about hoarding iodine tablets - just in case, should the radiation contaminate California. Then he read a little, smoked a little, went to his Tuesday party, then he finished the night playing detective because someone had taken a portion of the fresh strawberries from the fridge. Then he ate a big bowl of chili before turning in.

Tomorrow his weekly shipment of Hawaiian shaved ice is due in before noon so he's excited by its arrival, but his immediate crisis is figuring out who ate an extra portion of the fresh strawberries. None of the help will fess up.. Then he plans on a nap before his Wednesday evening party.

In the meantime, for the third straight day, Japan has begged the United States to help them stop this nuclear disaster by using some of our military assets to drench the burning reactors with water. The President doesn't understand what they mean and wonders out loud what happened to their looters? Why aren't there any looters? We had looters in New Orleans and LA, but the Japanese got nothing.

LogicMan 3 years, 9 months ago

And no criticism from the popular press of Obama's impotent inactions. But immediate on Bush II when he kept offering help to LA/NO, but they kept refusing.

Both should have gone in early, full force.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 9 months ago

Reading back through these comments (which I don't recommend) shows the typical knee-jerk downplaying and namecalling that has too often typified this comment board. As the second containment vessel breaching is announced, with stored nuclear waste rods beginning to uncover and perhaps melt down too, it's a horrifying prospect to lay on top of the tsunami devastation--my heart goes out to the Japanese people.

If folks don't think this is going to have an impact on new nuclear plant construction, then they should step right up and invest in nuclear power right now. It was the financial community who killed the nuke power plants after 3 Mile Island, and I sure as heck wouldn't be lining up to put my money into nukes after Fukushima. The new nukes in Georgia were the first ones to move ahead with the loan guarantees, and they were going to cost 8 billion dollars apiece--and that was before all of this happened. You might as well increase that pricetag 50% for the coming cost overruns and delays, and then who is going to buy that very, very expensive electricity? Who is going to invest in the two nukes planned for Texas that is designed by--you guessed it--Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)?

I'll go out on a limb and say that the current generation of nuclear power plant designs just died on the vine. Next generation nuclear? Decades away and guaranteed to be pricey, perhaps to the point of ridiculous. Time to get serious about investing in highly efficient designs and energy conservation so we can do much more with what we have, like Europe has been doing. It's a chance to innovate and even re-look at those values that our parents had and ponder the possibility that living within our means wasn't such an outmoded idea after all.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.