Kyushu delays increasing output at Sendai nuclear plant after cooling system problems detected

JIJI, Kyodo

Kyushu Electric Power Co. said Friday it will delay planned increases in electrical output from the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture as seawater is believed to have entered into a reactor cooling system.

The company planned to bring the recently reactivated reactor up to full capacity on Tuesday. But this will now be delayed as it will take about a week to fix the problem, officials from the utility said.

A small amount of seawater is believed to have flowed into one of the three condensers in the reactor’s secondary cooling system, the officials said. Condensers turn steam into water by cooling it, after the steam runs power generation turbines.

But there should be no problem in continuing the reactor’s operations as the salt can be removed with the aid of desalination equipment, the officials added.

The level of electric conductivity, which is monitored to check water conditions, rose Thursday afternoon at an outlet of a condensate pump used to circulate secondary coolant water.

Kyushu Electric checked the water quality and confirmed an increase in salt content.

Each condenser has some 26,000 tubes inside that are used to pipe seawater around for cooling. Kyushu Electric suspects that holes have opened on such tubes, causing seawater to enter into the condenser.

The company will seal any tubes found to have holes, the officials said.

In Japan, similar problems have occurred about 50 times in the past, but the latest case was the first at the Sendai power plant. In the past, Kyushu Electric experienced two cases at the No. 1 reactor at its Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture in 1997 and 1999.

The output at the Sendai plant’s No. 1 reactor, restarted on Aug. 11, reached 50 percent of capacity last Sunday and 75 percent on Wednesday. The company had planned to raise output to 95 percent Friday.

The reactor is the first in Japan to run under strict new safety standards introduced in July 2013 following the meltdown accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was wrecked in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The reactor’s restart also brought to an end the total absence of active reactors in Japan that had become a feature since September 2013, when Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture suspended operations for routine safety checks.

Some nuclear experts have said reactors could face severe safety problems because they have been mothballed for such a long period of time.

  • gokyo

    Another “trust me” result from Abe and his circus. He touted the new standards as being the “best in the world” but it wasn’t clear what “world” he was talking about.

  • Brian Donovan

    Are you kidding me? a volcano and a seawater leak? get the hint folks: nature does not want nuclear power.

    Shut it down. wait till the volcano danger is passed. You get loss of grid connect anywhere down the line, and you are in a station blackout. You get an ash cloud your way, and the air intakes on the emergency generator will clog and fail. I don’t care about the ability to take 6 inches of ash, that’s not the problem.

    Wind is not cheaper overall than the operation and maintenance costs of nuclear. Stop wasting time and resources on nuclear, it’s a dead end. Lazard.

    The IAEA says we will see a shortfall in uranium fuel supplies around 2025. and it will get bad fast.

    There is no excuse for building more nuclear, and little for even operating existing nuclear power plants.

    Solar and wind are cheaper, faster to install and have free fuel forever.

    • Michael Mann

      Do you think It is an omen? I’ll take science over superstition every time.

    • Sam Gilman

      Brian, how far is the plant from the volcano?

    • Starviking

      Solar and wind have “free fuel forever”?

      Yet the Tonopah CSP is having problems with its “free fuel” supply.

    • TimS

      Wind and solar is sometimes sold cheaper because it is out-of-phase with demand, intermittent, unreliable, backed by fossil fuels.
      “the grid is over supplied when it is not necessary, and when it is needed solar/wind does not supply the grid.”
      Nuclear is much more reliable as baselod and is also carbon-free, compact and much more ecologically friendly as it does not require large land and offshore areas in wildlife’s habitats, and does not destroy natural landscapes as wind/solar does.

  • http://www.dailykos.com/user/shpilk shpilk

    Ah, the energy that is “too cheap to meter” – come back with more costs, unpredictability and potential problems. This case is ‘minor’ – note how there’s no mention of leakage of radiation – if the seawater can get into pipes, how are we certain radiation isn’t going to leak of

    The public worldwide gets to fund this sick perversion of thinking fission based power is:

    1. Safe – LNT is proven science. There’s no ‘safe dosage’ of radiation.
    And any Quality Assurance / Reliability Engineer [and I happen to be one] will tell you the potential points of critical failure in any of these current plants are a statistical nightmare, nearly impossible to diagram or quantify.

    Keep in mind that loss of power [ironic, isn’t it] caused the most severe damage at Fukushima. There were no attempts made by TEPCO to even remedy the lack of power situation for WEEKS to get the cooling pumps going. Generators should have been airlifted in immediately – the response was devastating, the disaster made horribly worse by gross failure to manage the situation.

    2. Cost effective – sure, when the public is paying and investors are protected, it’s ‘cost effective’ – for the INVESTORS.

    They get to walk away from paying for risks and the maintenance of facilities for tens of thousands of years – that’s how long the materials remain dangerously radioactive after plants are decommissioned. Decommissioning charges for these plants have skyrocketed as technical complications mount for every plant that has exhausted it’s operational lifetime.

    3. Environmentally friendly – it’s not _just_ radiation that’s a risk – even the ‘clean output’ of elevated water temperatures from cooling towers is seriously damaging the surrounding environments of some of these plants.

    Where does the highly radioactive waste go? Anyone have an answer to THAT yet? Who pays to store 150 million pounds of this stuff?

    IF you tell me “we’ll burn it in reactors” – show me one cost effective and safe reactor that’s done it, yet.

    4. Sustainable – in a pig’s eye. The chemicals used to maintain the flow of cooling are corrosive. Look at what happened at Davis-Besse. The water cooled plants can’t even operate properly with higher water temperatures, Pilgrim in Massachusetts had to reduce power because the cooling water was too hot. Plants in Southern States have actually had to shut down because the incoming water temps are just too hot.

    The public gets to fund it, because it makes a small group of people very, very rich and creates jobs for nuke technician drones who have the ethics of slugs.

    No insurance company in the world will issue a policy for these plants,
    and there’s darn good reasons for it. In the 1950s they could already see that the industry was managed by incompetent, profit hungry corporations who have little interest in public safety, or overall benefit to the public. There’s no ‘top limit’ to monetary and legal liabilities for potential full scale disaster of any of these plants. Hence the Price-Anderson Act.

    The agencies that oversee the industry? They are loaded with insiders who are biased, good ol’ boys or corrupt to a fault.

    The public worldwide has been sold a bill of goods based upon lies, misinformation and greed, since the very beginning.