An Open Letter to Florida Power and Light: St. Lucie Unit 2 Nuclear Reactor

Dear Mr. Silagy,

As the President of Florida’s largest utility, with monopoly control over a significant part of the state and over 4 million captive customers, I respectfully ask that you address three important issues regarding Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) St. Lucie Unit 2 nuclear reactor.

  • Why is the steam generator tube damage at St. Lucie Unit 2 the worst in the nation and why is that damage significantly worse than St. Lucie Unit 1?
  • Why did FPL fail to fully publicly disclose the significant modifications made to the St. Lucie Unit 2 steam generators when they were replaced? If this is not the case, please provide documentation demonstrating this public disclosure.
  • Do you expect the damaged Unit 2 steam generators to operate for their full service life? Please confirm for the record that the damage occurring to the Unit 2 steam generators, which you claim is insignificant, will not force premature removal of these critical components at ratepayer expense. FPL customers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars already with these replacements. Can you assure FPL customers that they will not have to bear the cost of FPL’s imprudent decisions that led to modification of the now increasingly-damaged steam generators?

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has brought forward very well documented evidence to the public and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in filings submitted earlier this week: an expert declaration from a nuclear engineer, our hearing request and a stay motion. Articles written by the Tampa Bay Times about the reactor can also be reviewed herehere and here.

Source: Tampa Bay Times on 2/22/14, information from U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission & FPL

Your company has not addressed the merits of our case, instead relying upon a public “attack the messenger” approach. All FPL public responses have been diversions from the real issues of concern, ensuring the safe operation of St. Lucie Unit 2, the proper regulatory oversight by the NRC and protecting FPL ratepayers from imprudent decision-making by your company. As a monopoly provider, your customers do not have a choice for their electric power, therefore it is incumbent on FPL to be transparent about how you run your business and make decisions that affect both the safety and pocketbooks of many Florida citizens.

Lastly Mr. Silagy, if you are so certain there is no safety issue and no increased damage to the tubes from the uprate, then why won’t you share the results of the inspection with the public before you bring the reactor back online? That is all we are asking. If you are right, then what do you have to hide? It is your lack of transparency that is troubling.

Just the facts, not the attacks please.


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Excerpts from a letter sent by a DAB Safety Team member with many years of nuclear experience to the NRC Chairman on 03/11/14

The NRC, has consistently failed to protect the lawful rights of nuclear workers expressing nuclear safety concerns from retaliation from greedy powerful Utilities.

In addition, the NRC has failed to identify the true root cause of fluid elastic instability in San Onofre Unit 3′s Replacement Steam Generators, which has led to the early decommissioning of both Unit 2 and Unit 3 causing a multi-billion dollar debacle for both southern California ratepayers and the entire nuclear industry which now uses steam generators!

Just like the now shutdown San Onofre’s 21st Century Safest & Innovative Replacement Steam Generators (which failed in less than 1 year [Unit 3] and 2 years [for Unit 3], the NRC has continued to allow Unit 2 of the St. Lucie nuclear complex to operate outside of its license. The NRC has emphasized that the premature tube wear poses no impending safety issues.
“There is no steam generator safety problem, nor tube integrity safety concerns, at St. Lucie,”
Joey Ledford, an NRC spokesman

I completely disagree with NRC and FPL. The NRC’s job is to ensure public safety and not promote the incorrect safety logic of FPL, so FPL can continue to make money by preaching false safety sermons which are just like San Onofre’s operator Edison (SCE) did. Three years in a row, steam generators in Europe potentially (See Attached File) built by AREVA developed tube leaks due to blockage of TSP holes by corrosion products and internal tube cracks caused by high cycle thermal fatigue and fluid elastic instability. Earlier Generators that suffered tube leaks due to cracks were North Anna (1987) and Mihama (Japan, 1991). St. Lucie Replacement Steam Generator tubes can potentially develop tube leaks during normal operations and/or design basis accidents due to blockage of TSP holes by corrosion products and internal tube cracks caused by high cycle fatigue, fluid elastic instability, high steam flows, high fluid velocities and defective anti-vibration bars. NRC and FPL has no control on gradual blockage of TSP holes by corrosion products and/or development of internal tube cracks. The defects in installation of anti-vibration supports cannot be easily identified and/or corrected. Existing ATHOS Thermal-Hydraulic Computer Models cannot predict localized fluid velocities in low flow areas due to blocked TSP holes. Identification of internal tube cracks is a very tedious, laborious, time-consuming and expensive process. The only precaution that the NRC and FPL can take to avoid one or more tube leaks in the St. Lucie Replacement Steam Generators built by AREVA are: (1) Reduce the high steam flows by reducing power to 90% of the existing licensed power level, and (2) Manually check the fluid gap velocities in the secondary side of the steam generator. These velocities should be less than 20 feet/second according to Dr. Pettigrew, the world’s foremost expert on fluid elastic instability and flow-induced random vibrations. FPL has made similar operational and design mistakes in Replacement Steam Generators just SCE did in the now shutdown San Onofre 21st Century Safest & Innovative Replacement Steam Generators mentioned above.

As I have said before, rebuilding these Original CE steam generators with high flows is a very complex task. Utilities like SCE and FPL have made operational and design mistakes in replacement steam generators to add more power than the Original CE steam generators in order to maximize their profits. Mitsubishi and AREVA have failed to build these complex generators to SCE and FPL specifications. On top of that, SCE and Mitsubishi subverted the NRC Regulatory Process and mislead the NRC and Public. The NRC ASLB wisely voted against the NRC Staff in the case of San Onofre’s restarting at even reduced power. Senator Barabara Boxer, The NRC Office of Inspector General, The Public, Independent Reactor Experts, Ex-NRC Branch Chiefs, EX NRC Chairman, San Onofre Nuclear Workers and Citizen’s Groups have been very disappointed with the NRC’s Performance. Let me remind the NRC Commission that the NRC’s primary job is reactor safety (verbatim enforcement of federal laws) and not acting as agents for power promotion for Utilities with a history of retaliatory and/or negative safety cultures. Promotion of Nuclear power is the job of NEI. It is high time for NRC to change their approach in order to align itself with President’s and Senator Boxers Doctrine.
The NRC works for American Public and not Nuclear Utilities…. Thanks

Comment by CaptD on March 12, 2014 3:47 pm

The 9 page document I referred to (above) can be found by using Google:

Tube support plate clogging up of French PWR steam generators

IRSN – Reactor Safety Division
92262 Fontenay-aux-Roses Cedex France

Comment by CaptD on March 12, 2014 3:57 pm

Three links that will help ratepayers of FP&L and/or anyone else, better understand why steam generator tubes can cause such big ☢ problems. It is also important to say that the NRC still fails to accept that more than one steam generator tube can fail at the same time, something that San Onofre Unit 3 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, is no longer accurate, since 8 tubes in the newly installed Unit 3 failed in-situ (in place) pressure testing and a huge number were severely damaged yet the operator SCE had no idea this was occurring until one tube started leaking. If something like a major earth quake occurred and/or a “beyond design basis event” event like a main steam line break (MSLB) with a valve getting stuck occurred then it could result, as the animation illustrates, in not only a release of radiation but even a loss of the reactor core coolant which could result in a meltdown like Fukushima!

1. A wonderful free animation that shows what could happen if SanO Unit 2 is restarted and one or more of the steam tubes fail… Note you can move your cursor around the animation and explore many different sub-animations.

2. Chart: U.S. Nuclear Reactors: Replacement Steam Generators Tubes Plugged to Avoid Radiation Leaks. Note: San Onofre is now being decommissioned because of it steam generator tube problems.

3. Article: High Burnup Fuel: No storage or transport solution
Even the type of fuel rods used in a reactor make a big difference in how safe the steam generator tubes are, since using High Burnup Fuel increases the wear and tear on all the components. Higher temperatures usually makes them wear out faster, which creates increased profits for the Utility and additional billion dollar repair bills for the ratepayers that have to pay for repairing these “souped up” reactors!

Comment by CaptD on March 12, 2014 5:08 pm

Wow! Money and financial gain trumps logic, reason and the care and concern for humankind.

Comment by Amy Baird on March 13, 2014 9:00 am

Reply to Amy Baird

Yes, who would ever guess that any BIG Utility/Corp. like FP&L who I’m sure pledges using many fancy words, that it puts the health, safety and well being of all their ratepayers FIRST, would even consider making any changes that are not in their ratepayers best interests?

I’m specifically speaking about any changes specifically designed to increase their own profitability, which would violate the sacred trust that exists between themselves and the ratepayers they serve.

FP&L’s Top Management would never allow this to happen because if it did, it would mean that FP&L is in reality, putting their shareholders welfare far ahead of their ratepayers, and we all know they would never want to be caught doing that…


Comment by CaptD on March 16, 2014 3:46 pm

France is now seeking caps on the cost of Nuclear Power, is FP&L be next?

Just posted:

I’d add that France grossly under estimated the cost to decommission their reactors and now has had to add a special energy tax to try and help pay for future decommissioning!

Nuclear will continue to be ever more expensive as new Solar costs continues to decline, especially in Countries like Germany that are early adopters of Solar (of all flavors) Energy!

France in order to become competitive, needs to start decommissioning their nuclear reactors ASAP, and they would be well advised to seek financial help from those Countries (like Germany) who are located “downwind” from France, who would be far safer if France did not continue to have the RISK of a European Fukushima hanging over their heads!

It is time that France join with its neighbors and develop a European Energy GRID that will power everyone well into the 21 Century; any thing less will only result in regional geo-Energy politics that will doom them all to a life of less or even one or more potential Fukushima-type disasters which would devastate all of Europe!

Comment by CaptD on March 18, 2014 8:18 pm

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