APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fuel element failure possible at Tsuruga No. 2

Japan, Fukui Prefecture, May 2.

There are reports of a spike in primary coolant activity at Japan Atomic Power Company's Tsuruga No. 2 plant. This is a Mitsubishi APWR (Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor) rated 3423 MWt / 1115 MWe, which first achieved criticality in May, 1986.

A spike in coolant borne Iodine 133, and a very large spike in coolant borne Xenon were noted in a sample today when compared with one from almost one week ago. JAPC will shut down Tsuruga No. 2 to investigate the cause, which to this writer's thinking is probably localized fuel element failure. Nothing has been released to the outside environment at all.

These plants have not one bolt in common with the boiling water plants at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi site. This event is not related to any earthquake damage. Reactor plants are designed with the expectation of some fuel element failures during the life of a core; so long as the failure is not serious the plant will continue in operation. The spike in Xenon activity on this plant is however very large, so that unless there is a sample reading error a fuel element failure seems likely given the facts we have now. In a case like this, JAPC will discuss the event with NISA, the NSC and Mitsubishi (the reactor vendor) to determine how to proceed.

7:10 PM Eastern Monday 5/2

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