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Jellyfish would inevitably force Australia’s nuclear submarines into shutdown, if fleet based in Brisbane

Jellyfish would ‘inevitably’ force nuclear submarines into shutdown if fleet based in Brisbane, expert says  

Leading marine scientist says Moreton Bay, one of three sites shortlisted, is bad choice due to risk to reactors if jellyfish sucked in. Guardian,  Ben Smee in Brisbane, @BenSmee, Fri 11 Mar 2022 .

Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would “inevitably” be forced into an emergency reactor shutdown by swarms of jellyfish if the fleet was based in Brisbane, a leading marine scientist says.

The Australian government this week released a shortlist of three sites – Brisbane, Newcastle and Wollongong – as a potential east-coast home port for the nuclear submarine fleet, which will arrive in about 2036 under the Aukus partnership with the US and the UK.

The Queensland government has been cagey when asked whether it supports a base in Brisbane, a position described as “very strange” by the federal defence minister, Peter Dutton, whose electorate is in Brisbane…………

Jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin, a leading marine biologist, says Brisbane is “close to the absolute worst place” for a nuclear submarine base, due to the conditions in Moreton Bay and the frequent jellyfish blooms.

In 2006, the US nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan was forced into an emergency reactor shutdown in Brisbane after it sucked more than 800kg of jellyfish into its condensers, hindering coolant from reaching the main reactors.

Picture if you will America’s biggest, most expensive, most fearsome, awesome supercarrier is on its maiden voyage,” Gershwin said.

“It comes into the port of Brisbane and it sucks in thousands of jellyfish. It was a very embarrassing situation for the American navy. Luckily there was no major accident, nothing happened, nothing exploded.

“But when you’re dealing with nuclear anything, you’ve got to be [more cautious].”

The phenomenon of jellyfish shutdowns is surprisingly common in any power plant that sucks in water as a coolant

Gershwin says any base for a submarine with an in-built nuclear reactor could not be enclosed like Moreton Bay, which is sheltered by Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.

“Jellyfish act like plastic,” Gershwin said.

“If you’ve ever seen a pool filter that’s got a plastic wrapper caught, it clogs up … and floods all over the place because it’s not going through the filter. The water gets stopped by this ‘plastic’ and then the water can’t pass by that. Emergency shutdowns of power plants happen all the time, very frequently.”

Gershwin said that if Brisbane was used to base nuclear submarines, a jellyfish shutdown would be “inevitable”………

You’ve got to be really careful about where you put these things. Anywhere that you’ve got warm water, you’re going to have jellyfish. Moreton Bay is just sucked in with jellyfish.”

Brisbane ranked eighth of the sites considered by Defence as a potential submarine base in 2011, with Sydney listed as the best choice.………….   https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/mar/11/jellyfish-nuclear-submarine-emergency-reactor-shutdown-brisbane-base-moreton-bay-australia

March 12, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety

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