Nuclear Power Plant Shut Down By Jellyfish

As much as we’d like to think that our technology is nature proof, every now and then we found out with shock that the truth is quite the opposite. A nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon, California had to shut down operations after jellyfish like organisms infested the filters.

Perhaps not the most common maintenance work for people at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the jellyfish infestation could have created a very risky situation. The little sea creatures were clogging the filters that “cleaned” the water that was going into the unit to cool the plant. Because of the infestation, employees at the nuclear power plant had to shut down operations yesterday.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant serves about 1.5 million homes. The two units at the San Louis Obispo County plant deliver about 2,300 megawatts of power, so keeping operations on the safe side is essential.
Senior communications manager, Tom Cuddy, for the nuclear power plant down in Diablo Canyon said: “We made the conservative decision to ramp down the affected unit to 20 percent and continued to monitor the situation”. Then, the organisms “became so voluminous that we decided to do what is in the best interest of the plant and safely…and shut it down”.

But the damage already occurred. Unit 1 of the plant was already under observation for previous problems with refueling and maintenance. Unit 2 was shut down yesterday, after the infestation with little sea creatures called salp occurred.

Salp are barrel shaped organisms, translucent and plankton eaters. They are often thought to be jellyfish because these organisms can grow about 4 inches in length. The trouble with these creatures is that they reproduce rapidly.

Southern Californian Operator Edison said the problem of salp influx is unusual but needs fast solving before the tubes that carry the water would deteriorate. Tom Cuddy added that this isn’t the first time salp makes into the filters, but it is the first time the infestation is so large. “We’ve had salp cling to the intake structure before, but nothing to this extent”.

According to Tom Cuddy, to resume activity, the nuclear power plant will have to wait for the salp to move on by itself.

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