Nuclear Energy: So Safe Jellyfish Can Throttle Entire NPPs

As if the current onslaught by Mother Nature on nuclear power plants in Fukushima and Nebraska wasn’t enough, and in case the fire threatening the United States’ oldest nuclear laboratory (and largest nuclear weapons repository) didn’t get our attention, two current stories on Reuters are almost comic relief.

From June 29, 2011:

An invasion of jellyfish into a cooling water pool at a Scottish nuclear power plant kept its nuclear reactors offline on Wednesday, a phenomenon which may grow more common in future.

Two reactors at EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear power plant on the Scottish east coast remained shut a day after they were manually stopped due to masses of jellyfish obstructing cooling water filters.

And from June 24th:

Jellyfish sounded the retreat on Friday after blocking an all-important seawater cooling pipe at a western Japanese nuclear power plant, the plant operator said.

The jellyfish managed to block the cooling system at one reactor at the Shimane plant on Thursday, prompting the operator to lower its generation capacity by 6 percent.

Warming oceans and overfishing of predators is leading to larger and more frequent jellyfish “blooms” and since their basic feeding cycle—sinking to the depths at night and rising to the surface in the daytime to feed—is mostly driven by relatively small variations in sunlight and water temperature that bring the plankton they eat up to the surface layers, the warm water outflows from NPP cooling systems can attract them like we attract mosquitoes.

Thankfully, the synchronous timing of all of these stories is suddenly reopening the international debate over nuclear energy just as the industry was making a hard push for nuclear as a “clean” alternative to the global-warming repercussions of oil.

It’s not nice to ignore your Mother.

 

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