To: Norm Cohen,

Hi Norm,

This latest Scram could be an indicator of a serious problem inside the reactor.  Of course, there's no way to know based on this type of reporting from the NRC.  We are carefully told, using standardized wording, that "all control rods inserted fully into the core" ("plunk go the rods" is the way I like to say it), but we are given NO CLUE as to what caused the three "Intermediate Range Monitoring detectors" (whatever they are) to spike, causing "scram signals" on both Reactor Protection Systems.  (In other words, they don't think it was the fault of bogus data in the RPSs, since they both indicated the same problems with the IRMs.  So something really happened, but they don't say what.)

This incident also illustrates the fact that shutdown is (along with startup) one of the two most dangerous times for any reactor.  Does anyone know what number of SCRAM this was for that Oyster Creeky unit?  Each Scram is a violent thing, stopping all that water very quickly (and plunking the rods in at the same time).  The Scram alone causes spikes and drop-outs of pressure throughout the system, putting a terrible strain on the pipes, pumps, valves and vessels that make up the various subsystems of the reactor.

So I wonder what really happened?  What part of the old rust bucket fell out of sync with the rest of the contraption as it was laboriously brought to "reactor shutdown", causing the spikes which caused the automated system to get scared of itself and -- well, "plunk go the rods"?

And this term -- "cold shutdown" -- doesn't really exist.  The irradiated fuel remains extremely hot, just no longer quite AS HOT!  "Cold" is as inappropriate a term as the word "safe" is regarding nuclear fuel.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 08:42 AM 5/25/2004 -0400, wrote:
Power Reactor Event Number: 40778
Region: 1 State: NJ
Unit: [1] [ ] [ ]
RX Type: [1] GE-2
HQ OPS Officer: ARLON COSTA Notification Date: 05/27/2004
Notification Time: 01:21 [ET]
Event Date: 05/27/2004
Event Time: 00:33 [EDT]
Last Update Date: 05/27/2004
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
50.72(b)(2)(iv)(B) - RPS ACTUATION - CRITICAL
Person (Organization):

Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
1 A/R Y 2 Power Operation 0 Hot Shutdown

Event Text

"During a reactor shutdown for scheduled maintenance, a full reactor scram was generated from the Nuclear Instrumentation System.

"IRMs [Intermediate Range Monitoring detectors] 13, 14 and 18 spiked causing scram signals in both RPS [Reactor Protection Systems].

"All systems functioned properly post scram, all operator actions were correct. Holding reactor pressure at 900 psig to perform leakage inspection. Following [the leakage] inspection [operations intend] to proceed to cold shutdown."

All control rods inserted fully into the core and excess decay heat is currently being diverted to the main condenser, as necessary.

The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

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