Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pickering transformer mystery solved

I got a comment on my earlier article about this. I'm glad to report that it has nothing to do with the general neglect of these giant transformers, allowing them to sink away, like the Tower of Pisa. No, this has to do with general neglect in maintenance!

Seems that when these things are off, and you want to work on them, you hook up a bunch of grounding straps to leak off stray currents. These are big huge copper things. It's kind of important to take them off when you fire it up again, but they didn't. I'll bet that was one heck of a copper-vapour cloud!

I still can't find out if they totally toasted the thing. I can't find anywhere that unit 7 has started up again. I do find it rather odd that the official story is that it was a 'ground fault'. When the public thinks of that, they think of a little trickle current that is quickly cut off by a ground fault protector.


Anonymous said...

The official internal story is that Unit 7 is now going to be staying down so they can start on the fall planned outage work early and have it running again to make up the lost production in the second half of the year.

Harold Asmis said...

Yeah for 'official' stories!

Anonymous said...

OK another update: There is a small leak of annulus gas (CO2) into the moderator. It reacted with the gadolinium sulphate neutron poison they add during the outage to ensure it doesn't go critical. Insoluble gadolinium oxalate is formed when the sulphate reacts with CO2. This removed the gadolinium from solution during the outage causing a few neutron peaks until they dumped more Gd SO4 in. Eventually someone wondered where it was going and now they are looking for the cracked calandria tube and how to remove an insoluble deposit from the in-core components.

Harold Asmis said...

Yeah, I didn't want to say this. You better watch out for a witch hunt! I wonder when the sleepy media is going to come up with the headline "Pickering Unit 7 Truly Buggered!"