USA nuclear reactors can’t cope with extremely hot weather

Extreme Heat, Drought Show Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants  By Robert Krier, InsideClimate News, 15 Aug 12, “……— The Vermont Yankee plant near Brattleboro had to limit output four times in July because of low river flow and heat. At one point, production was reduced to 83 percent of capacity.

— FristEnergy Corp’s Perry 1 reactor in Ohio dropped production in late July to 95 percent of capacity because of above-average temperatures.

— Operators of the Braidwood, Ill., nuclear plant 60 miles southwest of Chicago sought and were granted a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the temperature of a cooling pond to 102 degrees—2 degrees above the established limit. The pond holds water cycled through the plant for cooling and then discharged. If the plant had not received the waiver, it would have had to scale back production in the middle of an intense heat wave. Kraft said the nuclear plants’ operating difficulties are part of a recurring pattern. In the summer of 1988, drought, high temperatures and low river volumes forced Commonwealth Edison to reduce power by 30 percent or shut down, in some cases, at the Dresden and Quad Cities plants in Illinois.

“That was the first wake-up call that plants would be vulnerable in a climate-disrupted world,” Kraft said.

There have been many more instances since:

— Europe, summer of 2003. During the heat wave that killed more than 30,000 people, France, Germany and Spain had to choose between allowing reactors to exceed design standards and thermal discharge limits and shutting down reactors. Spain shut down its reactors, while France and Germany allowed some to operate and shut down others.

— Illinois, summer of 2005. EPA and state officials considered easing thermal discharge standards because of drought, but a break in the weather made it unnecessary.

— Illinois, Minn., July 29 to Aug. 2, 2006. The Prairie Island (Minn.) plant had to reduce output by 54 percent. The Quad Cities, Dresden and Monticello plants in Illinois also cut power to moderate water discharge temperatures.

— Michigan, July 30, 2006. The Donald C. Cook reactors in Michigan were shut down during a severe heat wave because temperatures in a containment building exceeded the regulatory limit of 120 degrees.

— Southeast U.S, Aug. 5-12, 2008. The Tennessee Valley Authority lost a third of nuclear capacity due to drought conditions. All three Browns Ferry reactors in Alabama were idled to prevent overheating of the Tennessee River.

— France, July 2009. France had to purchase power from England because almost a third of its nuclear generating capacity was lost when it had to cut production to avoid exceeding thermal discharge limits.

— Southeast U.S., July, August 2011. The TVA reduced power at Browns Ferry to stay within discharge limits. At one point, all three of the reactors cut output to about 50 percent. Had the plant been operating at full capacity, the downstream temperature on the Tennessee River would have exceeded the 90-degree limit….

One Response to “USA nuclear reactors can’t cope with extremely hot weather”

  1. woodc19 Says:

    Reblogged this on Beautiful Earth.

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