SALP COLONY shuts down a Nuclear Plant off Southern California
©Richard Hermann Photography
The workers of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Southern California received a very slimy surprise this week when they discovered hoards of jellyfish-like creatures clinging to the structure, leading to the shutdown of the plant.
Salp, a barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate, moves by contracting, thus pumping water through its gelatinous body. The salp strains the pumped water through its internal feeding filters, feeding on phytoplankton. Salps appear similar to jellyfish because of the simple body form and planktonic behavior, however, they are structurally most closely related to vertebrates, animals with true backbones. Source
The influx of salp was discovered as part of the plant’s routine monitoring system, according to Tom Cuddy, the senior manager of external and nuclear communications for the plant’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric.
The salp were clogging the traveling screens in the intake structure, which are meant to keep marine life out and to keep the unit cool.
"Safety is the highest priority," Cuddy said. "We will not restart the unit until the salp moves on and conditions improve. No priority is more important than the safe operation of our facility."
The plant consists of two units. Unit 1 was shut down previously because of refueling and maintenance work and will not be functional for several weeks. Now that Unit 2 has been shut down because of the influx of salp, the plant has ceased all production.
The plant’s strategy? Wait until the salp move on and resume production once the filters are clear. Source
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