`Unusual event' declared at Pennsylvania nuclear plant

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`Unusual event' declared at Pennsylvania nuclear plant

2000

SHIPPINGPORT, Pa. (AP) -- A leaky valve at the Beaver Valley Power Station spilled radioactive water onto a floor Monday, forcing shutdown of the plant's No. 2 reactor and prompting a low-level emergency.

The water remained within the four-foot thick walls of the reactor containment building, authorities said. There was no indication of a threat to public health or safety.

The "unusual event," the least serious of four emergency classifications, was declared at 5:36 a.m. Monday.

All reports from the plant, located about 35 miles west of Pittsburgh, indicated there had not been a radioactive release from the plant, state and federal officials said.

At one point, radioactive water was spilling onto the floor of the containment building at the rate of 12 to 20 gallons a minute, said Neil Sheehan, federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman. No workers were exposed.

Sheehan could not say how much water leaked in total.

"We've been monitoring the situation," Sheehan said. "We've had a resident inspector on site since 6:30 this morning watching developments. The utility appears to be doing what's necessary and the plant appears to be shut down."

Workers in protective suits went into the building to check the leak but were unable to reach the valve, Sheehan said. They were expected to try again after the reactor had been fully shut down Monday afternoon, he said.

The leak appeared to be coming from a line used to drain water from the reactor's coolant system, said Sheehan and Todd Schneider, a spokesman for the plant's owners, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co.

The plant transfers energy from the nuclear reactor to turbines through dual systems of circulating water. Water that circulates through the reactor core is superheated and then used to turn water in a separate, non-radioactive system into steam that turns the plant's turbines.

The incident began at 3:20 a.m., when reactor operators learned of a leak that exceeded the plant's allowable limits, Sheehan said.

The other three classifications of emergencies are an alert, a site-area emergency and a general emergency. Only one general emergency has ever been declared at a U.S. nuclear plant, after the March 1979 accident at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg.

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000

Answers


A recent issue's real-life tech support marvel ( http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/2000-12-04.htm#9 ) was one thing; reader Al Girard's fictitious (and expurgated) item is another:

YOUR DELETE KEY

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INTRODUCTION

The Delete Key provides a keyboard based, fully manual method for the removal of information. Furthermore, use of the Delete Key in conjunction with the small amount of brain matter you have left may induce a tingling sensation of pleasure.

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Helga Gumpwetter has three text files. In the first file are instructions for making a nuclear bomb. The other two contain funny jokes about pumpkins. Because Helga deleted the nuclear bomb message and read the pumpkin jokes, she lacked the ability to nuke her ex-boyfriend, thus saving all of King County Washington. Talk about some serious ROI!

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-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000

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