Chicago almost became a glowing radioactive sister city to Fukushima.
Yesterday we broke the story of the La Salle Nuclear plant having to perform a Fukushima style direct-to-atmosphere venting of the primary nuclear containment due to a lightening strike. As we indicated at the time, the amount of radioactivity released is unknown because the radiation monitors were not on a backup power supply.
Today in a follow on NRC event report, we find out that failures in the emergency cooling system resulted in the last ditch cooling attempt of directly venting the radioactive drywell to the atmosphere. The severity of those failures are underreported in the NRC event report, because it reads no different than if it the failures had been discovered during testing instead of being found out in the midst of a real life emergency resulting in the last ditch cooling effort of venting.
We explain the situation in more detail in the video, but gist of the analysis is as follows.
- Lightning took out power to both reactors.
- Backup generators kicked on, but powering everything would overload them
- The systems which measure how much radiation is being vented from the plant did not have power.
- The reactors lost cooling capability.
- Automatic emergency cooling kicked in.
- The automated emergency cooling on Unit 2 was failing.
- As a last ditch effort, Unit 2 primary containment was vented to the atmosphere.
- The venting cooled and dropped the pressure in Unit 2 enough to compensate for the failing cooling.
- The camel was down to its last failing straw and only fractured its back; had it broken, Chicago would be aglow.
- Radioactive contamination did occur.