How to provide pump power at Fukushima

Normally, I wouldn’t think myself qualified to offer insight on how to cool a reactor plant in meltdown, but then I read this in the “New York Times:

Christopher D. Wilson, a reactor operator and later a manager at Exelon’s Oyster Creek plant, near Toms River, N.J., said, “normally you would just re-establish electricity supply, from the on-site diesel generator or a portable one.” Portable generators have been brought into Fukushima, he said.

Fukushima was designed by General Electric, as Oyster Creek was around the same time, and the two plants are similar. The problem, he said, was that the hookup is done through electric switching equipment that is in a basement room flooded by the tsunami, he said. “Even though you have generators on site, you have to get the water out of the basement,” he said.

— “Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months, Experts Say” (New York Times, March 13, 2011)

Yes, it never occurred to nuclear power safety engineers that an earthquake might cause a tsunami, and a tsunami might flood a basement.

Normally, I wouldn’t offer the following obvious suggestion, but maybe thinking about the obvious is something that is lacking here. Anyhow, here is a diagram which I hope clarifies the situation and offers a simple solution.

They want to attach the portable power generator at Point 1, which they can’t do because it’s underwater. Well, how about cutting the power lines at Point 2, and connecting the portable power generator there? Then you don’t have to bother with pumping out the basement or repairing the switching equipment.

Just cut the cables, clamp on the jumpers and go.

Any electronics hobbyist, to say nothing of an electrician or an electrical engineer, would know how to do this. And again, it seems so obvious that I wonder why it isn’t being done. But then, I would have thought that the earthquake/tsunami/basement-flooding progression would have been obvious too, and no one saw the potential problem for all these years.

About engineerzero

Once and future engineer.
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