Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is There A Link Between The Illinois Nuclear Power Plant Problems & The Earthquake?

Illinois Nuclear Power Plant Shuts Down Unit After Power Loss

Backup diesel generators are powering one of the two nuclear reactors at the Byron Station facility in northern Illinois. Unit Two came offline yesterday after it inexplicably lost power. The facility's operator, Exelon, declared the incident an "unusual event" - the lowest of four emergency status declarations set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Fire crews were called to the site, about 25 miles outside of Rockford, as smoke was seen from the top of the facility building, according to WREX-TV. But the NRC told the Chicago Tribune the smoke was from a transformer and fire crews didn't find a fire.

Exelon says workers vented steam to help the reactor cool off, which is part of their emergency response process. AP reports the steam came from plant turbines, not the reactor itself, but Exelon notes tritium was released in the steam, which is radioactive; both the NRC and Exelon say radiation levels are safe and there's no harm to the public. There's a brief Q-and-A about the steam release at the Christian Science Monitor.
Now investigators are examining whether equipment failed in the plant's electrical switchyard, triggering the shutdown, according to Exelon, which explains the switchyard transmits power both ways between the electrical grid and the nuclear plant.

Source: NPR

Byron Nuclear Plant
The cause is still under investigation for a shtudown at the Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Station near Rockford. (Credit: CBS)

2.4 earthquake rattles northern Illinois

7:56 AM, Jan 31, 2012   |   0  comments
Credit: AP/file.
MCHENRY, Ill. (AP) - A minor earthquake that shook northern Illinois sent tremors across Chicago's northern suburbs.

Seismologists with the U.S. Geological Survey say the 2.4 magnitude quake happened just before 10 p.m. Monday and was centered just east of McHenry. There's no word of any damage or injuries.

USGS geophysicist Jessica Turner calls the earthquake "very minor." Turner says USGS received some reports of light shaking in Chicago, about 45 miles away.

Such small tremors are very common. The USGS estimates 1.3 million quakes with magnitudes between 2.0 and 2.9 occur each year.

Source: Click Here

Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location42.340°N, 88.243°W
Depth5.1 km (3.2 miles)
Distances17 km (11 miles) E of Woodstock, Illinois
33 km (20 miles) W of Waukegan, Illinois
73 km (45 miles) NW of Chicago, Illinois
305 km (190 miles) NNE of SPRINGFIELD, Illinois
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 17.6 km (10.9 miles); depth +/- 3.1 km (1.9 miles)
ParametersNST= 8, Nph= 11, Dmin=177 km, Rmss=0.45 sec, Gp= 97°,
M-type="Nuttli" surface wave magnitude (mbLg), Version=8
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusc0007u9c
Source :  USGS 

A Deadly Mix
What if a nuclear power plant accident were to be caused by an earthquake? The consequences would be truly catastrophic. First of all, the evacuation of residents would be very difficult and rescue operations would be made almost impossible because of the high level of radioactive contamination. Thus, the disaster site would have to be abandoned, and an uncountable number of people would lose their lives right after the accident, and for many years to follow.

Professor Ishibashi Katsuhiko of Kobe University has been warning of this deadly mix for the last three years. He is a renowned seismologist, who at the young age of 32 established the Great Tokai Earthquake Theory. In 1994 he wrote Daichi-doran no jidai (The Era of the Raging Earth), based on a theory that was bashed as being too extreme at the time. His theory was redeemed five month later, in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, which left more than 6,000 dead.

Ishibashi points out that the study of earthquakes is not a fully mature science even now and we should not underestimate the possibility of disasters. But ignoring his warnings, the government insists that all Japan's nuclear power plants are safe, as they are in compliance with the earthquake resistance guideline for nuclear facilities. But for two major reasons, it is clear that the government estimate is far too optimistic. The first problem derives from defects in the guideline itself, in consideration of modern seismologic theory, and the second problem involves safety concerns over nuclear power plant construction, based on the opinion of a nuclear power plant construction supervisor with more than 20 years of experience.


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