Monday, July 9, 2012

Only an "oops"

Hey, it's not hot!  My brain is functioning again.  Fingers, too, apparently.

In skimming the news today, this one hit me as beautifully relevant to all our considerations of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

From NHK, again, (remember these links only work for about 12 hours) one more little problem not in the original design specs:

"Jellyfish problem at nuclear plants

"Operators of Japanese nuclear power plants have experienced power reductions at times, caused by a swarm of jellyfish being sucked into water intakes.

"Electricity at the plants is generated by steam-driven turbines. The steam is then sent to condensers to be cooled down with pipes in which seawater flows.

"An influx of jellyfish to the intakes sometimes disrupts the supply of cooling water, forcing operators to reduce power output to curb heat generation.

"Many plants now have filters or equipment to remove sea creatures at the intakes. But these measures do not work perfectly when a massive bloom occurs.

"Thermal plants have been affected too. Kansai Electric Power Company says jellyfish problems have forced it to reduce power output in 17 of its generators from April to June, the largest number of affected plants for the utility in the past 5 years.

"The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says reports on jellyfish trouble have been made from spring through fall, mainly at plants on the Sea of Japan coast.

"But the agency says no reports have been made that jellyfish have completely blocked water intakes. The agency says that safety can be ensured by measures such as monitoring the flow of seawater.
Jul. 9, 2012 - Updated 10:50 UTC (19:50 JST)"

So - nothing has blown up yet, so it's all ok, no worries.  Yep, monitoring will make it safe.  When the big surprise upwelling from the abyss of unanticipated ctenophores arrives next month, totally blocking all intakes, we'll be able to monitor the shut-downs as they happen.  Fabulous.

Irony aside- this is what is going to bite us, as a species, on our collective butt.  The utterly unforeseen consequences of global change, that our technologies simply have no ability to cope with.

With thanks to T.S. Eliot:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
With neither a bang nor a whimper;
But with only a soft spoken- "oops."



"Jellyfish cause problem at Ohi plant

"The operator of the Ohi nuclear complex in central Japan says it will strengthen the plant's defenses against jellyfish plagues.

"Kansai Electric Power Company was forced to reduce the power output of a generator on Sunday after a mass of jellyfish was sucked into a water intake of reactor 3.

"The utility said that conveyer-like equipment used to remove objects that had slipped through a mesh filter at the intake was overwhelmed by the volume of jellyfish.

"The invasion disrupted the supply of seawater that cools the reactor, forcing the utility to power down a generator.

"Last month, the same problem forced Kansai Electric to reduce the power output of a generator at one of its thermal plants.

"Jellyfish are a considerable risk for power plant operators. But predicting an infestation is notoriously difficult and a solution has proved elusive.
"Jul. 9, 2012 - Updated 11:52 UTC (20:52 JST)"

That's the nuclear power plant in Japan that they just restarted- the only one now actually operating, since 2 days ago- and they've already had to cut output, because of a "notoriously difficult" problem, where the "solution has proved elusive."

Fascinating that the announcement of an actual power reduction event at a nuclear plant followed a previous "theoretical" announcement by about 6 hours or so, isn't it?  An amazing coincidence.

1 comment:

knutty knitter said...

That's the trouble with big, complicated bits of machinery. Many small hitches and glitches tend to result. So they never work absolutely as intended.