The Missing Piping Diagrams
In an early February post, I wrote: A huge portion of this story is missing. In all this testimony, nobody asks for the piping drawings. People send emails or ask questions: "Do you have such piping?" They get answers: "Nope." Nobody ever asks to see a diagram.
I also pointed out that if the regulators and panels didn't request the information, or if they didn't examine the information they had requested, there is plenty of egg-on-the-face to go around.
I Found the Diagrams
On page 25 of the pdf (page 19 of the text) of the Report of Investigation, I found the following information, which I have paraphrased for clarity:
In a meeting with the NSA team on September 9, 2008, Entergy provided the team with the Piping and Instrumentation (P & ID) diagrams of the Main Transformer, HPCl, Condensate & Feedwater, Residual Heat Removal, Cooling Tower, Service Water, and Condensate Storage with underground piping.On page 27 and 28 of the pdf (page 21 and 22 of the text) there is a description of a further meeting on September 11, 2008, in which VY gave NSA tables of piping that was included in VYs Buried Piping and Tanks Inspection and Monitoring Systems, (BPTIP) reviews. The tables included the AOG piping (which was later the cause of the problem) and other systems associated with the tritium review program. Contamination levels were described for each length of pipe.
One of the VY people (Naeck) said (page 22, paraphrased) that the NSA people were smart engineers. He felt NSA knew of the existence of piping that carried radionucleides.
NSA knew, as above.
Who else knew? The NRC knew. At the NRC meeting on April 19 in Brattleboro, NRC staff members stated that they had records of piping at Vermont Yankee. They stated that they did not come forward during the NSA or POP review process because the NRC does not participate in hearings between a plant and its state regulators. However, I am reasonably sure that if a state regulator asked them for piping diagrams, they would have agreed to share them. They might have had to get permission from the power plant. I don't know. Of course, nobody asked the NRC because the NSA already had the diagrams.
In short, everyone knew.
PowerPoint or Piping Diagrams?
Recently, Donald Kreis of the Vermont Law School has written about this September 11 meeting which included the tables of piping. However, he describes the meeting as being based on a misleading PowerPoint presentation. Kreis ignores the piping tables which were given to the NSA at that meeting.
Like Professor Kreis, I am a fan of Edward Tufte. Like Tufte, I have mixed feelings about the use of PowerPoint. PowerPoint certainly played a role in the shuttle disaster Kreis mentions, but the corporate culture of NASA played a bigger role.
I do appreciate Kreis use of effective rhetoric. He puts VY, shuttle disasters, and Afghanistan losses together in one article, tarring VY with completely unrelated disasters. This was a true tour-de-force, and worthy of a lawyer who knows how to persuade people. I can't write a comment on his article, though, because comments are closed. Perhaps Kreis will comment on my post instead? I think it would be worthwhile to have a dialog.
After the VY-NSA Meeting
Let's leave Kreis and PowerPoint now, and go back to the Report of the Investigation. The early pages show VY and the NSA amicably deciding that the Service Water System (SWS) is a more vulnerable system that the CST (Condensate Storage System) or other systems. They mutually conclude that piping in trenches is likely to be far less of a problem than the SWS, and they decide to investigate the SWS.
As a former corrosion engineer in nuclear plants, I agree with this decision to switch the focus from the CST to SWS. The SWS uses untreated water for cooling the condenser, and always poses problems of corrosion and biofouling. As one engineer at VY says early in the report Breite, quoted on page 25 of the pdf, 19 of the report: (I was) not surprised (we were looking at SWS) because everyone looks at SWS. SWS across the industry consistently raised reliability concerns.
Much later, things got difficult. The players changed and the questions changed. The agreements about what systems to investigate did not hold, but that is another post for another day.
Right now, we can leave the situation as amicable as it was in late September 2008. Piping diagrams were available. NSA and Entergy had agreed to investigate SWS. Groups were in agreement. (We're now on page 40 0f the pdf and 34 of the report.)
Later, things changed.
In recent articles, DPS and Arnie Gundersen claim that they were not given sufficient information. Since they had access to P & ID diagrams and pipe lists, what information did they feel they were lacking? (Perhaps they are just trying to rub the egg off their faces. Or perhaps information was lacking, though the articles don't say what information they were denied. )
I recommend Rod Adam's excellent post on this subject. Adams gives important insight into people's motivations.
I also plan to get beyond page 40 of this 140 page report. Later. In another post.
Graphic of part of a P&ID diagram in accordance with Creative Commons license.