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Power News Science Technology

Aging Indian Point Reactor Shut Down By Bird Droppings (nypost.com) 90

mdsolar writes: A gloop of bird poop was responsible for shutting down the Indian Point nuclear plant for a few hours last December, according to a state-commissioned report into the incident. The Westchester power plant automatically shut down on Dec. 14, 2015 when a string of dropping from a "large bird" fell into some of the plant's electrical equipment and caused the reactor's automatic shut down to trip, according to findings by Entergy, the company that runs the plant. "Damage was caused by a bird streamer. Streamers are long streams of excrement from large birds that are often expelled as a bird takes off from a perch," company officials said in the report, ordered by Gov. Cuomo. Last December's unplanned shut down was the 13th since June 2012.
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Aging Indian Point Reactor Shut Down By Bird Droppings

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  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @08:14PM (#51633321)

    That was some serious shit..

    • Forget the Hellfire missiles . . . arm your drones with bird poop. Imagine a drone pooping on Osama bin Laden . . . right in the face!

      Priceless!

      If the US military would adopt this strategy, our troubles in the Islamic State would soon be over!

      • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

        One of the weapon systems in the US military Bag of Holding drops strings of conductive carbon fibres over electrical switching stations and generating plants to blow them out. It was used during the initial attack on Iraq in 2003, deployed by cruise missiles IIRC. There may also be a precision free-fall bomb that can do the same thing.

    • Only one of the reactors shut down, not the entire plant (as mdsolar incorrectly states in the summary, but we are used to his fud). The grid handled it without disruption.
    • /thread
      + multiple Internets

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @08:15PM (#51633325)
    Seems like things worked as they should, if anything with an error on the side of safety. In a similar vein, power substations often shut down because squirrels short out the lines, tripping safety systems.

    Where's the news in things working as they should?
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @08:17PM (#51633337)
      Oh, just to show how common these things are, look here [independent.co.uk]. "...623 power disruptions caused by squirrels, 214 by birds, 53 by raccoons, one by a Hannah Montana balloon, and a handful of other incidents caused by everything from snakes to slugs."
      • Oh, just to show how common these things are, look here [independent.co.uk]. "...623 power disruptions caused by squirrels, 214 by birds, 53 by raccoons, one by a Hannah Montana balloon, and a handful of other incidents caused by everything from snakes to slugs."

        (Improperly and irreverently cited from this story [upi.com])
        AGING MIDDLE SCHOOL SHUT DOWN BY UNSAFE MILEY CYRUS BALLOON, NUCLEAR POWER TO BLAME

        MIAMI, Nov. 11 2008 (UPI) -- Authorities blamed a 'Hannah Montana' balloon and some birds for causing a power outage for hours around a Miami middle school. "That's just like them," an anti-nuclear demonstrator in front of the school quipped. "It's a whitewash fronted by corrupt corporate interests intended to convince the public that nuclear energy is safe, when we all know

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        And that's the point. The biggest weakness of nuclear, and some other technologies, is that a single failure can knock 1GW+ off the grid instantly. You need a lot of spinning backup ready to take over at a moment's notice to cover that eventuality.

        We need to develop more storage. Not just for renewables, but for nuclear and pretty much every form of production, so that we don't have to keep spare generating capacity online just in case. If storage can cover us long enough to spin up alternatives then we can

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          And that's the point. The biggest weakness of nuclear, and some other technologies, is that a single failure can knock 1GW+ off the grid instantly. You need a lot of spinning backup ready to take over at a moment's notice to cover that eventuality.

          We need to develop more storage. Not just for renewables, but for nuclear and pretty much every form of production, so that we don't have to keep spare generating capacity online just in case. If storage can cover us long enough to spin up alternatives then we can

    • Seems like things worked as they should

      That depends somewhat on what was shit upon, but bird shit from above should really not be able to affect any power generation infrastructure, and if it can, it's poorly designed. The infrastructure, that is. Clearly the shit is top-grade.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @08:44PM (#51633465) Journal

        It was through either extremely poor luck or possibly supernatural intervention, that the streamer entered the plant through a small, unshielded thermal exhaust port which somehow led straight to the reactor core.

        It was definitely an architectural oversight; however, the automatic safeties caught the electrical overload and shut the plant down before catastrophic failure. *That* was a just matter of sound engineering practices.

      • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @08:49PM (#51633491)
        "it's poorly designed"

        Nope. It's designed to trip on when a sudden and significant overload is detected. Whether that's from a humorous bird dropping, or a more serious cause doesn't really matter - it detected a significant anomaly and took safe action. The system is reacting to measurements/inputs, not causes.

        And, it's not simply "bird shit from above" as you so blithely put it, it was a "streamer" from a large bird, as mentioned in the summary. That's a continuous stream, which to a high voltage circuit is little different than a wire shorting two conductors.
        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

          by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @09:40PM (#51633685) Journal

          "it's poorly designed"

          Yep. They could have put a $2 shield on top of the thermal exhaust port that led directly to the reactor core.

          That's the definition of poor design. Failsafes for when something comes down the exhaust port are all well and good, but it's not good design if you plan for a solution after there's been a problem instead of simply preventing the problem in the first place with a much cheaper fix.

        • "it's poorly designed"

          Nope. It's designed to trip on when a sudden and significant overload is detected. Whether that's from a humorous bird dropping, or a more serious cause doesn't really matter - it detected a significant anomaly and took safe action. The system is reacting to measurements/inputs, not causes.

          And, it's not simply "bird shit from above" as you so blithely put it, it was a "streamer" from a large bird, as mentioned in the summary. That's a continuous stream, which to a high voltage circuit is little different than a wire shorting two conductors.

          Many things I keep in my house are protected from this failure mode, by use of a roof. It catches the bird poo before it reaches any exposed high voltage lines I may have left laying around.

      • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

        by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @09:31PM (#51633649)

        but bird shit from above should really not be able to affect any power generation infrastructure, and if it can, it's poorly designed.

        Problem is, with electrical equipment at least, that a lot of that gear gets really hot, so it's kept exposed to the air, as insulating it would mean lots of expensive and failure-prone cooling equipment. So it's exposed to the elements, which means other possible points of failure. The other benefit is, since it's all exposed, it's really easy to work on.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        It may well have been the substation that was pooped on. Most substations are not enclosed. The shutdown was precautionary.

      • Shat upon. What was shat upon.
      • Solar can be affected by dropping until the next rain. Minor effect though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because it's "aging", and it's "nucular power", which means it's scary and bad to anybody who's not an evil Rethuglican plutocrat.

      Maybe you should learn to think right thoughts, friend - your bewilderment flirts along the border between lunacy and thoughtcrime.

      Now hush, and just sit back to watch all the brainiacs on Slashdot who can barely manage to keep a fucking Debian server online discuss the "proper" design of nuclear power plants in great detail, and how THEY would have prevented this problem from ha

    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @09:14PM (#51633585) Homepage Journal
      Because mdsolar REALLY doesn't like Indian River. He is against nuclear in general, but Indian River in particular. Probably lives in the area.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The headline, summary and article are all false. Everyone knows that wind and solar are the only power generation methods that suffer production outages. Not nuclear.

    • Except for that whole thing about critical electronics being exposed to a location where a big bird can shit on it, and it wasn't Sesame Street.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nuclear engineer here. The headline makes it sounds as if the reactor is so fragile that even bird poop could cause it to trip offline and is disingenuous. Which is to be expected from a submitter known for having such weak arguments that he has to resort to such shenanigans. This has nothing to do with Indian point being a nuclear power plant, let alone an "aging plant". The bird poop caused a transformer in the switchyard to trip, cutting off the connection to the grid. When this happens, the reactor trip

    • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )

      Indeed. I hate how science ignorant anti-nukes pile onto reactor SCRAMs as if they’re evidence of how dangerous a nuclear plant is. OH LOOK!!! IT SHUT DOWN!! OH KNOWS!!11! SO DANGEROUS!!!!11

      Yes, it shutdown. Like it was designed to do in the event that anything happened that its control systems didn’t know to be safe. That’s evidence for how safe & well designed the plant is, not how dangerous.

      If you want evidence of nuclear plants being un-safe, find reports where reactors didn

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        Yeah, that one (Pripyat) became for all purposes a case study in "Reactor operator HOWTO: Making your plant explode intentionally."...

    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      Everything is magnified in a nuclear reactor since the cost of failure is so high.
  • It left some heavy shit!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This reactor is in New York which is part of murica.

  • When they say "equipment" do they just mean overhead cables? I can't imagine any other kind of electrical equipment being left out in the open.

    • Likely hit an insulator and caused sufficient leakage current to be detected and acted on.

      Nothing to see...

  • Sinister elements will read about this and breed giant birds, or feed beans to a thousand trained pidgins.

  • When the shit damages the outdoor transmission insulators, you don't know which way the bird is going to fry.

  • "Aging Indian Point Reactor Shit Down By Bird Droppings "
  • This may be the phenomenon described: https://youtu.be/GjTxagEGmt8 [youtu.be]
    • That's a bad angle to see the phenomenon. I had the (mis)fortune of getting a perfect side view of it while at a restaurant in Amsterdam. A heron took off and its motion caught my eye. My first thought when I looked at it was that it had about a 1 meter piece of yarn tied to its leg. Then the "yarn" started falling and lengthening, and I realized it was actually a bird dropping. I watched it go splat right on top of a bunch of parked bicycles.

      "Streamer" is a very apt term for what it looks like
  • ... the fact that it has sensitive shutdown measures is a bad thing?
  • Standard engineering practice when designing safety systems is to design them in a fail safe way. Degradation of safety systems can cause trips, diagnostic events can cause trips, and above all faults in the safety systems can cause trips. The only thing that can't cause a trip is the focus on the reliability calculations that go into these safety systems, dangerous-undetected events. These are engineered out as far as possible. This was not one of those events.

    Plant has a safe outage. Mdsolar posts anti-nu

  • This brings new meaning to the term "mobile streaming platform".

  • It might go something like this:

    Shit!
    SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!
    SHIT!
    Shit.
    Shit.

  • In a world in which everything bad is suddenly super-sized, it seems the Nissan pigeons are moving up to nuclear reactors. They used to limit their attacks to cars. https://youtu.be/OnZhPtpibSk [youtu.be]

  • They should just use lasers to keep birds away from things like this.

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