Eric Cantor’s Nuclear Failure

As I noted last week, the VA earthquake last week happened in Eric Cantor’s district, just miles from a nuclear power plant. I reported then that the plant had lost power and switched to backup diesel generators.

But it turns out that switchover didn’t happen without a hitch. One of four generators failed to start.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission initially reported that the plant’s emergency safeguards worked just fine as diesel generators automatically kicked in to keep nuclear rods and spent fuel safe in storage facilities and cool water ponds.

But it did not happen without a minor snag.

According to the incident report published hours after the quake, one of North Anna’s four power generators didn’t start properly, as it had been designed to. It was taken off line, and power from another generator off site was routed through to make the system fully operational. Following inspections of the facility and its sensitive parts, both reactors were brought back online.

Perhaps this is why they sent all non-emergency personnel home from the plant.

Now, it turns out that Eric Cantor is just as interested in using a potential disaster affecting his own constituents as an excuse to cut government as he was with the residents of Joplin, MO. As he did when a tornado wiped out Joplin, Cantor insisted that any federal aid be tied to cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

“There is an appropriate federal role in incidents like this,” the Republican said after touring the damage in his district. “Obviously, the problem is that people in Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.”

The next step will be for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to decide whether to make an appeal for federal aid, Cantor said. The House Majority Leader would support such an effort but would look to offset the cost elsewhere in the federal budget.

“All of us know that the federal government is busy spending money it doesn’t have,” Cantor said in Culpeper, where the quake damaged some buildings along a busy shopping thoroughfare.

Who knows what will get cut? USGS, as Cantor backed doing earlier this year? Emergency warning systems? Inspections to ensure that nuclear plant backup generators work properly in case of an emergency (and after Fukushima, how is it that those inspections haven’t already been done)?

Eventually, though, between refusing to keep up America’s infrastructure and cutting the things that help keep Eric Cantor’s constituents safe, Cantor’s anti-government radicalism will eventually lead to a preventable disaster.

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17 replies
  1. Sacsuxs says:

    His quantum dot intellect knows no bounds, never having much less having a chance of ever reaching a boundary. Industry dollars are too easy.

    Understanding the logical underpinnings of concerns that Cantor simply repeats leads me to believe that he cannot articulate the fact that he is “pro corporate” and cares not that having a money-making institution “police” itself is rather stupid and will always lead to negative volatile safety events as the corporate structure finds ways to put a dollar value on human life and incorporate that into a budget. The market cannot and will not act fast enough by itself, without federal intervention, to prevent another Bhopal or Fukushima, that’s a fact.

  2. orionATL says:

    all i want to know is where’s the money behind cantor coming from. is he the house’s answer to jim demint?

  3. Bob Schacht says:

    Karma keeps biting Cantor on the ass, but he keeps pretending that nothing is happening.

    Bob in AZ

  4. brendanx says:

    I had to write a letter to the editor when I found out on A11 that the plants are only built to withstand a 6.2 earthquake. The justification for that? It’s highly unlikely in our lifetime, as that would only happen six times in 10,000 years. So the plants are only built to withstand likely events; unlikely ones are discounted. Like a combination of an earthquake and flooding, or a hurricane. I mean that’s impossible, right?

    I’ll bet you this plant goes down during this one.

  5. Sojourner says:

    After spending most of last year working at a nuclear power plant on a project, it was interesting to note that despite the efforts of a lot of people, stuff still happens.

    If I were Cantor, I would be screaming bloody murder for MORE oversight and not less.

    There are several recent articles online including this one http://www.propublica.org/article/whistleblowers-say-nuclear-regulatory-commission-watchdog-is-losing-its-bar/single that Cantor should read…

  6. John B. says:

    One can only hope that in the event of some major event at the nuclear plant in Cantor’s district, that he happen to be at home that weekend…

  7. Cranky Observer says:

    The NRC’s General Design Criteria Criterion 17

    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part050/part050-appa.html

    requirements for testing diesel generators

    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/reg-guides/power-reactors/rg/01-009/01-009.pdf

    and the Station Blackout rule combine to require that US nuclear plants have two independent emergency power system each capable of supplying 100% of the essential systems bus load and starting any necessary combination of motors on the ESB. The four DGs at the North Anna plant would be two trains of two 50% capacity units each.

    Diesel generator testing requirements were tightened in the 1980s (with possible unanticipated side effects), and many nuclear operators added an additional unit of at least 50% capacity to allow testing of one emergency generator while the plant was still on line and also to increase redundancy. That would be the fifth diesel generator that was brought on-line at North Anna.

    Cranky

  8. KWillow says:

    Strange how the conservatives insist there just isn’t enough money to go around…in a country where we print our own money. And breezily hand billions over to Wall Street, Banks, and the MIC every month.

  9. klynn says:

    I would expect nothing less from a ______ who bets against his own nation and citizens with his investments.

  10. rkilowatt says:

    fyi—Emergency Diesel Generators [EDGs]at NucPwrPlants have always been and are still subject to [1]failure to start-up and [2] failure to operate continuously for specified durations.

    EDGs are tricky monsters to maintain and test bec both actions themselves introduce problems that can cause failures on the next start-up. It is inherent in the nature of EDGs.

    Thus failure rates are calculated and allwances made to ensure sufficient generator wattage is available despite “some failures”.

    And, yes, further and careful work {hello NucRegComm] needs to be done to get 100% certainty of the results.

  11. Mart says:

    I checked the USGS. The plant is essentially EQ designed for 2% chance of exceedance over a 50 year period. That is a joke. These should never have been built, but since they are here… There should be at least two fully independent coolant reservoir/ponds/rivers, diesel powered pumping and piping networks. There should be a gravity fed total flooding system for extreme emergencies. I have seen to many emergency diesels that are test run for thirty minutes every week fail for any number of reasons during annual performance tests. Inlet air tube comes loose, oil pump failure, coolant line plugged, water spray leak takes out control panel, etc.

    All fire systems equipment, control panels, electrical panels, transformers, desks, display panels – everything should be securely bolted to the floor, building’s support structure. Bracing should be designed for the largest anticipated quake imagined. I guess using my system would make these disasters in the making cost prohibitive to build, which is what they truly should are.

  12. ezdidit says:

    The preventable disaster would be the electoral defeat of this [email protected]@hole. How can Virginians be so stupid? This is a really bad man in the power center of the Federal government. He obviously means to hurt people. That’s not right.

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