Jellyfish swarm shuts down St. Lucie nuclear power plant

„A massive influx of jellyfish shut down the St. Lucie nuclear power plant in late August, but it is only now that nuclear regulators, wildlife officials and marine researchers are learning that the event also killed several tons of protected goliath grouper.

A spokesman with Florida Power & Light said the public was never in danger during the Aug. 22 event. The plant, which is designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, was shut down for two days because of the jellyfish invasion and to repair a leak that was discovered in another pump after the shutdown, Doug Andrews said.

Jellyfish invasions of this magnitude are rare. Biologists at the plant could recall only three other similar events in the past 30 years, Andrews said. Still, the company is changing procedures and equipment, including „increasing the robustness“ of screens that catch debris and wildlife and improving wildlife monitoring „to provide for earlier warning,“ Andrews said.

The four-day event began Aug. 22. The plant’s three intake pipes, located almost a quarter-mile offshore, began sucking in an unusually large number of moon jellyfish. Travelling through the pipes at about 4.6 mph, the jellyfishes‘ poisonous tentacles broke off.

Trash rakes and large, rotating metal screens that prevent debris from getting into storage tanks could not keep pace with the influx of dying and dead jellyfish and became clogged. That caused pressure to build in the pumps that keep the water flowing in the plant for cooling.

For fish trapped in the plant’s intake canal, the situation became lethal. Unable to escape the canal, the poisonous tentacles attached to their gills, which became grossly swollen. Biologists from Inwater Research Group, a nonprofit that oversees the plant’s turtle protection program, poured white vinegar on the gills of the giant grouper in an attempt to save them. Ten were rescued before divers were forced out of the water after they, too, were stung.

No one kept count of how many goliath grouper died or whether they carried tags from research projects, said Jonathan Gorham, vice president of Inwater. There were between 50 and 75 dead grouper, he said. A scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the weight of each grouper was estimated at up to 200 pounds…..

Source and full article:

Kurzfassung: Ein Massenauftreten von Quallen führte im August zur Zwangsabschaltung des KKW St. Lucie in Florida. Hierbei kamen auch 50- 75 Grouper (dt. Zackenbarsche) um, einige konnten durch Taucher gerettet werden. Massenauftreten von Quallen in dieser Größenordenung waren nach Aussage von Biologen am KKW selten, nur 3 Fälle in den letzten 30 Jahren.

Zwangsabschaltungen von KKW durch Quallenschwärme werden in den letzten Jahren weltweit immer wieder berichtet und werden meiner Meinung angesichts der weltweiten Vermehrung von Quallen wahrscheinlicher. Frank Schätzings Schwarm lässt grüßen.

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