Two Letters Re: The OTHER Electrical Grid Failure Problem


I just retired from 24 years of bouncing around the nuclear plants in the U.S. and abroad. For work planning, fire stop penetrations, and OSHA worker safety, every nuclear plant in the world has at least 20 electricians on-site 7/24. During a refueling outage, add 100 to that number. – K.G.

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Hello Hugh,

I read the comments about electricians at nuclear plants and the inability to have more than one or two there in an emergency situation. While I am not disputing that possibility, the entire situation should be told. Electricians are support staff at any nuclear station. I have been an electrician at a dual unit nuclear station for over eight years after years of being a contractor. We work for the Operations Department, which is there 24/7/365, and they are required per NRC Tech Specs to maintain minimum staffing at all times. So there are roughly 22-24 of these highly-trained operators always on site. Most of these operators were Navy Nuclear in charge of nuclear-powered submarines and some were surface as well.

About the fours hours mark, that is not entirely accurate. It is a variable timeframe, depending on many factors. First, assuming that Pool Cooling and Residual Heat Removal systems were lost, there are backups to both. The Spent Fuel Pool is always Protected Equipment, even in normal times, and due to Fukushima we have added millions of dollars in upgrades that were mandated by the NRC to backup the backups of the backups. The Spent Fuel Pool is exactly that; it stores the spent fuel rods, and these are under almost 30′ of water. The concern would be loss of cooling to the Spent Fuel Pool; at about six hours, the water would begin to boil and eventually boil off entirely. With the upgrades, those situations would be greatly mitigated, although not entirely removed, so there is always a concern, and it is taken at a most serious level.

I agree that the possibility of an EMP is not openly discussed, if at all. So I can’t answer if that is even being considered or taken seriously. I would suggest to people to contact their representatives and demand it be given the attention it deserves. I can say that my state is undergoing a Grid Modernization program that most liberty-loving people are in dispute with. Taxes and fees for electricity are going up, and the companies are beginning to install Smart Meter Technology on homes. A simple Google of Smart Meters can explain why many believe they are not only an invasion of privacy but also a fire hazard. You can currently opt out of installation for a fee of about $23 a month, but since the power company rather than the homeowner owns the meter at some point the change out is mandatory.

I hope I could add to the discussion. Thank you. -Senior Maintenance Electrician at a Nuclear Station