Nuclear Security Lapse?

So first of all this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3478092/Scuba-diver-tells-moment-thought-going-die-sucked-NUCLEAR-POWER-PLANT-emerge-inside-stunned-workers.html

And this: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/scuba-diver-sucked-in-to-nuclear-plant-water-pipe-files-suit
So the second link I posted said that there is “protective” over the intake pipe which means the divers story just doesnt add up if hes sucked in
So I suppose my question is this a major security lapse or oversight on the part of the nuclear power plant? It seems anyone could take a dinghy even in the dead of night and just swim through the intake pipe and have access to something so important as a nuke plant

Theres a few things odd about this story. If the pipes were “hundreds of feet down” thats beyond the limit of normal scuba diving. You need Trimix and special training to go below 200 feet.

Secondly an open pipe with that powerful a suction and no grate on it would suck in so much fish and other debris as to be useless, it would get clogged constantly. The powerplant claims “The diver intentionally swam into one of the intake pipes after bypassing a piece of equipment to minimize the entry of objects.” Until we know what method was used to bypass it, we can’t say if it was a security lapse or not.

I thought the story odd enough to check the local press in that area, but they confirm it well enough. The issue is a lack of copy-editing, Lil’ Ed may be the last of his kind. I suppose it’s a security risk of some level, though it looks like one could just jump off the A1A bridge in to the cooling pools and swim to the containment buildings.

I think the bigger threat is a decent sized hurricane washing the whole thing into the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream splitting the reaction vessels in half. Just seems a really really bad place to have a nuclear power plant.

So these intake pipes have no turbines and are just to push salt/sea water into the containment pools for cooling, etc? I would have thought turbines (as the diver thought) would be there for purpose of generating energy

More likely, to generate suction! How is the water pushed in?

Once again, a local story in South Florida…so proud of my region :slight_smile:

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that none of the stories I’ve read have details about the depth of the pipe.

… 16 foot diameter pipe … current sucks human in … I think coolant pools below sea-level fits the scenario … can you imagine the damage one manatee can do to a pump impeller?

I also note that the event apparently took place last July. The news is that he’s suing.

Hmm I wonder why the nuclear plant didn’t push for trespassing charges?

I doubt it was hundreds of feet down. The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, now decommissioned, in Southern California, had intakes that were in roughly 30 feet of water. Moss Landing’s Power Plant’s intakes were at a similar depth or shallower. Anecdotally, from talking to local fisherman, the heated water their outflow pipes emitted had a tremendous effect on the local sea life, attracting sharks in addition to a bunch of other fish.

A Monterey Bay proposed desalination project was noted for having seawater intakes that "

The East Coast, FWIW, plants are mentioned elsewhere to be as shallow or even shallower than those on the West Coast. While Moss Landing doesn’t take advantage of it, the Monterey Bay desal project would take advantage of the fact that the seafloor really drops off close to shore, due to the presence of an adjacent submarine canyon on par with the Grand Canyon. 2 miles off shore, you can be in 600 feet of water.

The concept of things getting into cooling loops that you don’t want to have in those loops, is known as impingement, when they get impinged on protective screens, and entrainment, when they make it into the cooling system. Per this picture series from the Palm Beach Post about the St. Lucie nuclear plant in question, it happens quite a bit to loggerhead turtles local to the area. Aerial photo of what I think is the plant. The diver ended up in the large reservoir to the left of the plant, quite some ways from the containment structures and pumps.

As the links I put in the first paragraph should indicate, impingement and entrainment of marine life is a problem for any large heat engine—which is all a nuclear power plant is—or industrial process that’s on the sea shore. You can google up umpteenth studies from NOAA and the EPA concerning just how much it can have on the populations of fish and marine mammals.. It just makes more headlines when it’s a person sucked into the intake lines, and when it’s a nuclear plant. There are supposed to be quite a few screens, metal bars, and other things to prevent this sort of thing, especially whenthe plant had this happen to a diver in essentially the same manner in 1989.

What would happen if you ended up near the intakes directly at the plant itself? Is it different from the sea water intakes that this diver got into in terms of engineering/design?

A local idiot ONLY once every 27 years?!

And to think folks think Floridians are stupid.

Upon further reflection I think this might be case of doing something stupid (that they knew was probably safe) in order to sue and win big bucks.

The turbines that generate energy do not come in contact with sea water.

I am not sure what is going on here the story leaves a lot out. Do the pumps pull from the holding ponds and the ponds are refilled from the sea?

I don’t know the details of this particular reactor (it’s actually two pressurized water reactors sitting side by side), but neither the primary nor secondary coolants would ever come into contact with sea water. It looks like instead of cooling towers, they use a pool of sea water to cool/condense the secondary coolant so it can be reheated by the primary coolant from the reactor itself. The secondary coolant would pass through some kind radiator-like device to transfer heat to the water in the cooling pond, then pumped back into the reactor to make steam for the turbines. These reactors are not like hydroelectric dams – the use heat from the reactor to make steam that spins the turbines. So there’s no way a diver could get sucked into the turbine from the cooling pond. And even if he could, he would be boiled to death before he ever got to the turbine blades.

I’m confused, was he in the Navy?

If he was, he’d probably know that a yellow buoy means “stay the heck away from me!”

According to the story, he appears to have thought it meant “Moor here!” - yes, he moored to a navigation aid buoy. And looking at the NOAA chart (11472) for the area, there is no less than five yellow buoys close to each other. A pretty solid hint in the general direction of “you do not want to be here”.

As if to confirm my low opinion of his seamnaship, if this link has it right, he would have had to essentially enter under the cap of the intake structures.

http://imgur.com/a/Ve4to

Admittedly, I am not a scuba diver and have no idea what safety rules are being taught, but this idea of essentially entering an underwater structure within sight of a power plant seems perhaps a little foolhardy to me.

ETA: Photos of him in Navy uniform have - ehm - surfaced. One assumes he wasn’t in charge of navigation.

If I was his commanding officer and he was still current…WAS would be the operative word if possible.