This story was featured in the US Department of Homeland Security's "Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report 23 Jan 2006", which you can download here.
Eskom has not ruled out sabotage as a cause of one of their nuclear reactors at Koeberg in Cape Town, South Africa, having to be shut down. The controlled shutdown occurred on Christmas day after a loose bolt somehow got inside the generator of Koeberg nuclear power station's Unit 1. The bolt was meant to be attached to the outside of the generator. Eskom chief executive, Thulani Gcabashe, said at a briefing on Thursday, January 19, that an investigation was under way. The damage would take at least three months to repair. With only one of Koeberg's reactors working during these three months, the risk of power interruptions in the Cape would increase. Eskom is now shopping around nuclear power stations to try to buy a second−hand rotor and stator to repair the problem. These parts are not kept in stock by nuclear power plant manufacturers, and it would take at least a year for new parts to be made. Koeberg's other nuclear reactor is due to be refueled in March. Gcabashe said the refuelingcould be "stretched" by an extra two months, but this would have to be approved by theNational Nuclear Regulator.You have to to go the original article and read down a good way before you get to the part where it says
Neither the turbine nor the nuclear reactor of unit 1 was affected.Had this sort of thing occurred at a coal or gas plant it would never have seen print, but since there's a nuclear reactor several steps upstream of the equipment where the incident occurred, people jump on it. That is stupid, disingenuous or both. Both, probably, and for the DHS infrastructure report to forever be padded with tripe like this is annoying.
The sort of incident described has happened to me personally, and while a big deal in terms of the equipment affected, hardly justifies the breathless headline attached nor inclusion in the DHS infrastructure report, which is full of items that serve as nothing but filler and make the thing seem more substantive than it is.
The incident I was involved in didn't damage a generator, but it could have. I was a new engineer at a coal fired station where one of the generators had just come out of overhaul. The exciter dome was about to be closed up, and I was told to go climb inside and look around for the learning experience. I was well cautioned to remove everything from my pockets and take off anything I might leave behind, which I thought I did. As it turned out, I had forgotten the pager on my belt, and as I was climbing out of the exciter, it snagged on the edge of the access port and fell into the exciter dome. I was lucky in that it happened to land on a narrow ledge that was within reach, and I was able to retrieve it. No big deal in the end.
But a bolt at a nuclear plant: Oh.........my........GOD!