Sunday, December 22, 2013

A recent Fukushima release via ENFORMABLE; note the members of the Consortium.

Here is a recent release of early stuff, April 29, 2011 (from ENFORMABLE on December 16, 2013).  NOTE THAT THE CONSORTIUM INCLUDES General Electric Company.  I wonder if SANDIA was involved via DOE or NRC.

One essential function among five listed is:

Maintain reactors and spent fuel pools subcritical and adequately shielded.

Posted: 16 Dec 2013 01:39 PM PST
In April of 2011, a consortium of industrial and governmental organizations established to provide advice to Japan in its efforts to stabilize the conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, authored an analysis of Tokyo Electric’s roadmap to restore stability at the crippled facility. The consortium was made up of representatives from General Electric, Hitachi, Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), Naval Reactors, United States Department of Energy / Nuclear Energy, and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The roadmap which had been released by TEPCO gave examples of the near-term actions that TEPCO deemed necessary to minimize radiation releases and reestablish safety.
The consortium established five essential functions necessary for achieving the near term goal for improving plant conditions.
The five essential functions are as follows:
  • Remove decay and chemical heat from reactors, containment, and spent fuel pools.
  • Maintain reactors and spent fuel pools subcritical and adequately shielded.
  • Ensure structural integrity for all units (e.g. containment and spent fuel pools).
  • Provide reliable indication of essential parameters.
  • Terminate (or render insignificant) uncontrolled radioactive releases.
The consortium was also very concerned about the spent fuel pools in nearly all of the units.  The consortium largely dismissed the thermographic work that TEPCO had carried out, because it only indicated the surface temperature of the first obstacle encountered, and did not indicate the actual spent fuel pool temperature.
At Unit 1, the consortium was concerned that water being sprayed on the spent fuel pool was not actually reaching the pool.  They advised that TEPCO investigate and confirm that the spent fuel in the spent fuel pool was being cooled.
In Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 4, the consortium felt that TEPCO should install independent redundant backup systems for cooling.
While the consortium expressed concern about the Unit 4 spent fuel pool, experts were also concerned about the structural integrity of the Unit 3 building after being ripped apart by the explosions.
The consortium analysis pointed out that TEPCO’s roadmap was glaringly silent on maintaining the fuel sub-critical.  Further, the experts even questioned TEPCO’s ability to detect and monitor inadvertent criticality.
After using sea water for emergency cooling in the reactors, experts felt that consideration should be given to biological growth which may occur in the reactor vessels, containments, and spent fuel pools.  This had been witnessed at Three Mile Island, where it had been learned that the growth of such life forms could reduce visibility in the waters at best, or even worse could affect coolability of the fuel by reducing flows or heat transfer coefficients from surfaces.
To view the TEPCO Roadmap follow the link below:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spent Fuel Pool LOCAs and Censorship by NRC

Censorship continues.  NRC will not open up.  Here is my email to my Idaho Senator dated November 20, 2013:

Sent: 11/20/2013 1:34:10 P.M. Mountain Standard Time
Subj: The NRC lied to Senator Risch
Senator Risch:

On March 1, 2012, Buchanan of NRC wrote: The NRC has a long history of, and commitment to, transparency, participation, and collaboration in our regulatory activities.

I’ll concede that is likely that Buchanan’s letter is sufficiently weasel-worded so that lawyers at NRC could prove that nobody lied.

For years I have been trying to get details of NRC sponsored work at Sandia in the area of spent fuel pool fires.  NRC has stiff-armed my attempts.  It turns out that even GE and NEI have been stiff-armed; the following e-mail at NRC in the time frame of the shock of Fukushima  is revealing:

From: Zigh, Ghani
To: Gibson, Kathy; Scott, Michael
Sent: Wed Mar 16 14:01:31 2011
FW: Spent Fuel Experiments

What is our decision on sharing the BWR zirc fire data with GE and NEI.

They are classified as OUO documents.

 In order to keep this brief, I’ll go right to the bottom line.  I want to know what is going on and what has been going on and what will be going on.  There are or have been a lot of non-American participants who apparently have full access to this activity.  How in the world did American taxpayers get stuck in a situation that requires that the work be classified as OUO and that stiff-arms American taxpayers, while a league of foreigners not only has access to the work, but may control it?

Finally, I am an expert in these matters.  On Mayday, 2002, I sent PRM-50-76 to NRC, NRC denied it, and I am continuing to work in the field.  Fukushima on the Columbia would be no fun and the Columbia Generating Station is not worth the risk. 

Robert H. Leyse
222 Elkhorn Road
P. O. Box 2850
Sun Valley, ID 83353

I have not received any reply. I'll send further requests during early January 2014.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

SANDIA Spent Fuel Pool Fires and the Need-to-Know

Here are interesting SANDIA documents in the area of spent fuel pool accidents.  These are heavily sanitized and I want the original reports.
Here is a GAO report that is not sanitized:
The above GAO report refers to access to classified reports as follows:
The draft report recommends that the NRC Chairman direct the agency staff to develop a mechanism that allows individuals with appropriate clearances and the need-to-know to easily identify and access classified studies and help ensure that institution knowledge is not lost.

So, if I want to find out what is going on at SANDIA and elsewhere I'll have to become  one of tthe "... individuals with appropriate clearances and the need-to-know ... ."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Significant links for the 1% in BWR Mark I and Mark II venting II


Also we have these from NEI:

And this is from NRC, released November 14, 2013:

I sent this email today

Fwd: The circle
Date: 11/29/2013 8:33:35 A.M. Mountain Standard Time

Hello Again:

I found the problem.  ML13304B838 is incorrect.  ML13304B836 works. I believe that the sentence in ML13326B085 should be improved as follows:

For additional information, on November 14, 2013, the NRC has issued the interim staff guidance (ISG) document JLD-ISG-2013-02 (ML13304B836) for the implementation of Order EA-13-109, which endorses
the industry guidance in NEI 13-02 (ML13316A853) with some clarifications.
I have not studied ML13304B836 and ML13316A853.  However, it is interesting that a word search on "1 percent" yields zero findings in ML13304B836 and seven in ML13316A85.
Also, I note that ML13304B836 does not reference ML13221A011 of August 9, 2013.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The one percent and BWR Mark I and II

Speaks for Itself

Note:  The following is a copy of ML13326B085.  Unfortuately, the spacing is altered from the document that is on NRC's ADAMS.

Response to Mr. Leyse’s email dated October 14, 2013 regarding corrections to
ML13221A011 related to basis for venting capacity in Order EA-13-102.

The NRC staff prepared “Basis for Venting Capacity in Order EA-13-109, ‘Order to Modify
Licenses with Regard to Reliable Hardened Containment Vents Capable of Operation Under
Severe Accident Conditions’” (ML13221A011) in response to an inquiry received by the NRC in an e-mail dated July 25, 2013 from Mr. Robert H. Leyse. This document was provided to
Mr. Leyse in an email dated August 9, 2013. The subject of the inquiry and related response
was the design goal requirement in EA-13-109 of 1% decay heat removal capacity of the severe accident capable hardened containment vent system (HCVS) for boiling water reactors with Mark I and Mark II containments. In an e-mail dated October 14, 2013, Mr. Leyse stated the
following in regards to the response provided in the subject document:

1) It contains an erroneous statement related to the basis for the venting capacity and,
therefore, requests the staff to delete the statement from ML13221A011.

2) Document should Include the ADAMS Accession number for a document referenced
within, namely Reference 3.

3) The release (or ADAMS placement) date of document ML13221A011 be corrected from
August 9, 2012 to August 9, 2013.

4) ML13221A011 should acknowledge that it was a response to an e-mail inquiry from Mr.
Leyse on 7/25/2013 and that additional corrections were also made to the same
document as requested by Leyse in an e-mail dated 10/14/2013.

Item 1:

The statement in ML13221A011 that Mr. Leyse views as erroneous reads

The design analysis included a vent design objective of venting approximately
1% of decay heat for a 56 psi saturated steam pressure.

The statement is part of a paragraph that provides the basis for venting capacity in Order
EA-13-109, “Order to Modify Licenses with Regard to Reliable Hardened Containment Vents
Capable of Operation under Severe Accident Conditions.” However, the context of that
sentence is that it provides a description of the basis for the vent modification at the Pilgrim
Nuclear Power Station (PNPS), as contained in Enclosure 1 to Generic Letter (GL) 89-16. That
enclosure contains a statement in Section 3.2.1, Objective of Design Change that reads

For 56 psi saturated steam conditions in the torus, approximately 1% decay heat
can be vented.

The meaning conveyed by these statements is consistent, and therefore, the staff believes that
the referenced statement in ML13221A011 is not erroneous. The PNPS and the GL 89-16
hardened vent system was not required to accommodate 1% steam flow plus a worst case
hydrogen generation rate while maintaining containment pressure below its design pressure

For additional information, the NRC has issued the interim staff guidance (ISG) document
JLD-ISG-2013-02 (ML13304B838) for the implementation of Order EA-13-109, which endorses the industry guidance in NEI 13-02 with some clarifications. The industry guidance is an attachment to the ISG. Section 4 of NEI 13-02 contains the requirements for sizing the vent,
which includes considerations of suppression pool heat capacity, and simultaneous venting of
steam, hydrogen, and other non-condensable gases, including auditable analysis/calculations
that are required to be performed by the individual licensees in support of the vent sizing.

Items 2, 3, and 4

For Item 2, the staff agrees with Mr. Leyse that adding an ADAMS accession no. ML13017A234to Reference 3 will be useful. For Item 2, the staff thanks Mr. Leyse for pointing out the erroneous date on page 3. The correct date should be August 9, 2013 and not August 9, 2012. Finally, the staff recognizes that the response included in ML13221A011 was prepared in an email inquiry by Mr. Robert H. Leyse, to OPA.Resource@nrc.god on July 25, 2013 and this supplemental response is also prepared in response to Mr. Leyse’s email dated October 14, 2013.

November 20, 2013

ADAMS Accession No.: ML13326B085

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spent Fuel Pool Meltdown Testing at Sandia (NRC)

Here is the link to the delayed report.  More later.
Following is copied from the cover:

NUREG/CR-7143   ML13072A056


Characterization of Thermal-Hydraulic

and Ignition Phenomena in Prototypic,

Full-Length Boiling Water Reactor Spent

Fuel Pool Assemblies After a Postulated

Complete Loss-of-Coolant Accident

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research

Manuscript Completed: October 2012

Date Published: March 2013

Prepared by

E. R. Lindgren and S. G. Durbin

Sandia National Laboratory

Albuquerque, NM 87185

G. A. Zigh, Technical Advisor

A. Velazquez-Lozada, Project Manager

So, I have studied a lot of that report, but I still have work to do in reviewing that.  It is not quality work.  Following are selected sentences (italics) and some of my findings to date:

PAGE iii 
The close coupling of the experimental and numerical programs allowed for rapid validation and improvement of the MELCOR whole pool calculations. Because of the success of this approach, this project will be used as a model for subsequent studies.  

As I read the report, MELCOR was certainly not validated.  Data was fitted to MELCOR, but it is not proven that MELCOR would be applicable beyond the experiments that are described.  It certainly has not been established that the approach in these limited experiments is in any way suitable as a model for subsequent studies.

PAGE xix
Incorporation of “breakaway” Zircaloy oxidation kinetics into MELCOR was vital for

accurately capturing the Zircaloy heat-up to ignition and oxygen consumption.  
This is reported as one of several "... key findings from this integrated experimental and simulation program ... ."  Of what value has MELCOR ever been if it did not incorporate the kinetics of Zircaloy oxidation?  It appears that MELCOR has been updated based on the limited experiments, but it has not been established that this specific updating of MELCOR is of any use elsewhere.

It was known that some of the assumptions in the accident progression in NUREG-1738 were necessarily conservative,especially the estimation of the fuel damage. Furthermore, the NRC desired to expand the study to include accidents in the SFPs of operating power plants. Consequently, the NRC continued SFP accident research by applying best-estimate computer codes to predict the severe accident progression following various postulated accident initiators. The best-estimate computer code studies identified various modeling and phenomenological uncertainties that prompted a need for experimental confirmation [2]. The present experimental program was undertaken to address thermal-hydraulic issues associated with complete loss-of-coolant accidents in boiling water reactor (BWR) SFPs.  

Supplementary Notes by G. A. Zigh, Technical Advisor  and

A. Velazquez-Lozada, Project Manager include:

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) performed an experimental program to address thermal-hydraulic issues associated with compete loss-of coolant accidents in boiling water reactor spent fuel pools (SFPs).  The objective of these experiments was to provide basic thermal-hydraulic data associated with a postulated SFP complete loss-of-coolant accident.  The accident conditions of interest for the SFP were simulated in a full-scale prototypic fashion (electrically heated rods in prototypic assemblies and SFP rack) so that the experimental results closely represent actual fuel assembly responses. A major impetus for this work was to facilitate code validation (primarily MELCOR) and reduce modeling uncertainties within the code.

I have already posted the following on October 6, 2013, however, I am repeating that post for convenience at this entry.  This was first posted by Enformable and the following is copied from there.

March 16th, 2011 – Classified as OUO documents – BWR zirc fire data

From: Gibson, Kathy
Sent: Wednesday, March 16,2011 2:17 PM
To: Zigh, Ghani
Subject: Re: Spent Fuel Experiments
We have multiple requests from multiple parties for a plethora of information. This request is in the que. Will talk with you about this when I can.

From: Zigh, Ghani
To: Gibson, Kathy; Scott, Michael
Sent: Wed Mar 16 14:01:31 2011
Subject: FW: Spent Fuel Experiments
What is our decision on sharing the BWR zirc fire data with GE and NEI.
They are classified as OUO documents.

From: Durbin, Samuel []
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1:57 PM
To: Zigh, Ghani
Subject: FW: Spent Fuel Experiments
From: Saito, Earl F. (GE Power & Water) [mailto:EarI.SaitoqCanf.com1
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:35 AM
To: Durbin, Samuel; Rochau, Gary; Lindgren, Eric; Gauntt, Randall 0
Cc: Bonano, Evaristo Jose; Sorenson, Ken B
Subject: RE: Spent Fuel Experiments

From: Durbin, Samuel rmailto:sdurbin0sandia.gov1
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1:20 PM
To: Rochau, Gary; Lindgren, Eric; Gauntt, Randall 0
Cc: Saito, Earl F. (GE Power & Water); Bonano, Evaristo Jose; Sorenson, Ken B
Subject: RE: Spent Fuel Experiments
Attached are Mhe three relevant papers that were published in the ANS Transactions - Winter Meeting 2006 I Volume 95.
Your will note that the two papers based on the Sandia testing were heavily redacted at the instruction of the NRC. The test information is generally considered Official Use Only. We will need to receive permission from the NRC to release more substantial reports.
Samuel Durbin II
Sandia National Laboratories
Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technologies, Organization 6223
PO Box 5800 - MS 0747
Albuquerque, NM 87185-0747 •a
Office: (505) 284-7850A
Fax: (505) 844-2348

iau, Gary
esday, March 16, 2011 10:32 AM
, Samuel; Undgren, Eric; Gauntt, Randall 0
tito Ph. D. ('; Bonano, Evansto Jose
Spent Fuel Experiments
Sam, Eric, and Randy,
Earl Saito of GE-Hitachi has contacted me regarding some information on your Spent Fuel experiments, in particular, the BWR experiments. GE, as you can imagine, is trying to gather information on spent fuel pool issues for BWRs.
Can you please send the publically released papers you have written to "prime the pump"? I am sure there is material that you cannot share at this time, but I am looking at our NDA agreements to determine what latitude we may have, if any.
Gary E, Rochau, Manager
Advanced Nuclear Concepts
Nuclear Energy and Global Security Technologies Center
6585/2104, Organization 6771
P.O. Box 5800, MS-1136
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105-1136
Phone: (505)845-7543
Fax: (505)284-4276

And, here is a very interesting trip report:

The Fourth Program Review Group (PRG) and Management Board (MB) Meeting for
Spent Fuel Pool Project in Paris, France.
Dates of Travel, Countries and Organizations Visited
I departed for Paris, France on Saturday November 26, 2011 to attend and participate in
the fourth PRG and MB meeting for the spent fuel Zirc fire project. Meetings were held
at the OECD Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, November 28-29, 2011.
Author, Title, and Agency Affiliation
Ghani Zigh, Senior Level Advisor, DSA:RES.
Not applicable
To participate in the fourth Program Review Group and Management Board meeting for
the Spent Fuel Pool Project.
Abstract: Summary of Pertinent Points/Issues
In the PRG and MB of the PWR Zirc Fire project:
• PRG meeting was chaired by Techy Zsolt from Hungary.
• MB meeting was chaired by In De Betou Jan from Sweden.
• I made detailed technical presentations and explanations on the program review,
program of work and budget, phase experimental data and analytical
comparison, and the next phase technical design plan.
• Deliverables were discussed.
• Sensitivity of the data was discussed.
• Schedule and budget for 2011 and 2012 were discussed.
• Delay in the financial contribution of University of Pisa (UNIPI) was discussed.
• Technical decision done by PRG through E-mail was discussed.
• Next meeting was proposed to be held in Albuquerque, NM in October of 2012.
In November 28-29, 2011, I participated in the fourth Spent Fuel Pool PRG and MB
meeting held in Paris France. The experiment is taking place in Sandia National
Laboratory (SNL), Albuquerque, NM. In the first day of the meeting, PRG met. In the
meeting, Techy Zsolt from Hungary chaired the meeting as elected in the previous PRG
meeting. As USNRC lead, I gave detailed technical presentations on the program
review as well as the program of work and budget for 2012. Also, I presented the
experimental and analytical results for phase 1 of the program that was concluded
recently as well as the technical design plan for phase 2 of the program that will be
concluded by the end of next year. Additionally, detailed plan as well as deliverables
for 2011 and 2012 for the project was discussed. Finally, the next PRG meeting was
agreed to be held in Albuquerque, NM in October of 2012.
In the second day, the management board meeting was held. The meeting was chaired
by In De Betou Jan from Sweden as elected in the previous MB meeting. In the MB
meeting, I presented a concise report about the status of the program of work for 2011
as well as an overview of the overall program in the PRG meeting. My discussion in the
MB meeting also included the confidentiality of project data and results. Then, the list of
PRG actions from the previous day was approved. Also, the schedule and budget for
2011 and 2012 was discussed.
The MB has taken note of the delay in the financial contribution from UNIPI to the
Project and of its commitment to provide their entire contribution to the Project by the 30
June 2012. Considering this exceptional situation and following provisions from Article 2
c) 4 of the SFP Agreement the MB agreed that UNIPI continue to attend the Project
meetings and receive e-mail exchanged within the Project. However the MB asked the
Operating Agent to hold any further distribution of Project Phase II Data until payment
from UNIPI is received.
MB agreed according to Article 2 c) 3 that any technical decision done by PRG
electronically could be based on two-thirds quorum of the voting strengths.
Notwithstanding the above, the agreement of the USNRC shall be required for
decisions, which might affect the safety of tests, operations and personnel, or
concerning insurance
Pending Actions/Planned Next Steps for NRC
The PRG and MB members for the Spent Fuel Pool Project will meet in Albuquerque,
NM in the October of 2012 to discuss the status of the work and future activities of the
Points for Commission Consideration or Items of Interest
No commission action is required.
The draft official summary of the PRG 4 and MB 4 meetings are attached.
“On the Margins” 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The ACRS Exposed the Myth of the EPRI Code RETRAN-3D

On Wednesday, July 14, 1999 (Bastille Day), the U. S. NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards heard testimony by its member, Professor Graham Wallis.  Professor Wallis analyzed RETRAN-3D, which is a program for transient thermal-hydraulic analysis of complex fluid flow systems.

The discussions were detailed for several hours.  The Committee, informed by Professor Wallis, was not favorably impressed with the quality of RETRAN-3D.  Here is an excerpt from the transcript that displays the hostile exchange between EPRI's RETRAN-3 promoter and Professor Wallis.

MR. AGEE:  We feel that some of Dr. Wallis' statements
are very simply confusing the momentum and the nodal
balances of the equation.  These equations are straight 
out of Slattery and Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot. It's not 
simply EPRI's --  

DR. WALLIS: Can I comment on that, please? I have taught from Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot for about half my life, and I cannot find anything in Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot which is correctly being interpreted in the literature you gave me. 

MR. AGEE: This is fundamental --

DR. WALLIS: It's been misunderstood and misused, and it is wrong -- excuse me -- it is inappropriate to invoke Bird, Stewart, and Lightfoot as an authority for what was done.

Here is the link to the complete transcript of the above meeting and it is a significant disclosure 14 years later:

Here is another link from about a year after the above ACRS meeting:

This is interesting.  Here is the opening paragraph of NRC's documentation:


On November 3, 2000, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) met with the Electric
Power Research Institute (EPRI) to discuss the staff’s review of the RETRAN-3D computer
code. Attachment 1 is a list of attendees. During the meeting the staff discussed its conditions
and limitations for the use of RETRAN-3D. The code is under review by the staff for approval
for application to transients discussed in Chapter 15 of the Updated Final Safety Analysis
Reports for boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors. The conditions and
limitations for the use of the code which were agreed upon by the staff and EPRI during the
meeting are listed in Attachment 2. 

It is an interesting document.  Actually, EPRI was not present at the meeting; only its Washington D. C. representative was present and it is unlikely that he had any awareness of much.  The nuclear power users of RETRAN-3D and their contractors were there.  The EPRI "developers" of RETRAN were not involved and they were not on the distribution of this memo. It would be interesting to know how all this got set up.  Here is the list of attendees.

NOVEMBER 3, 2000

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
G. Vine

A. Attard
R. Caruso
R. Landry
L. Olshan
H. Scott
J. Staudenmeier

T. George, Nuclear Management Company
M. Paulsen, Computer Simulation & Analysis, Inc.
G. Swindlehurst, Duke Power


Thursday, October 31, 2013

OECD-NEA and SANDIA Zirconium Fire Testing

A lot has been going on and a lot has been covered up, but some of it leaks out, but it does not leak out in a timely manner.  

I have found this.

Page 1. OECD-NEA Sandia Fuel Project Jennifer Uhle, Division Director
Division of Systems Analysis Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research ... - 20k - 2012-12-01

Here is page 1 of 8 from the slide presentation by Uhle of NRC, apparently in the first half of 2009, although apparently it did not get into ADAMS until December 2012.

 OECD-NEA Sandia Fuel Project

Jennifer Uhle, Division Director
Division of Systems Analysis
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research

And here is page 8 of 8.

Very Draft Schedule
• Work at Sandia begins July 2009
– Ordering equipment, analyses
• Kick-off meeting Paris July 21-22, 2009
• Phase 1 construction January 2010• Phase 1 tests start March 2010
• Phase 1 tests complete August 2010
• Second meeting September 2010
• Phase 2 ballooning November 2010
• Phase 2 construction January 2011
• Phase 2 tests start March 2011
• Phase 2 completion December 2011
• Third meeting January 2012
• Final report June 2012

So, I'll let my Idaho Senator know that NRC lied to him about its open practices.  I'll cite the reference that reveals the NRC lies,ADAMS, ML12059A117, as I go after the details of the work at Sandia and likely elsewhere. I cited the NRC "open practices" letter in my October 5, 2013 entry to this blog and here is part of that:

Is NRC really that open? It is not.

Over a year ago, Borchardt of the NRC told my Senator Risch about NRC's openness and that I could get public information by directly contacting NRC staff instead of asking Senator Risch to get the facts.  It does not work that way, as readers may surmise from my entry of September 28, 2013.

Here is what Borchardt told Senator Risch: 

ADAMS, ML12059A117

March 1, 2012 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zirconium Fires Oregon

Here is one:

Fire crews battle zirconium fire at rare metals plant in Millersburg

The Associated Press By The Associated Press
Follow on Twitter
on April 11, 2013 at 9:42 PM, updated April 11, 2013 at 9:47 PM
MILLERSBURG -- Fire crews have controlled a zirconium fire that posed special challenges at a rare metals manufacturing plant in Millersburg.

Albany Fire Marshal Mike Trabue says crews responded Thursday to a building at ATI Wah Chang after a report of a combustible metals fire that was extending to a building. No one was injured.
Firefighters found several stainless steel containers of zirconium sponge on fire. Trabue says zirconium metal can react violently when it comes in contact with water so fire crews couldn't use that. With the help of Wah Chang workers outside the building, firefighters used special extinguishing powders and sand to control the fire.

At one point, Trabue says crews were pulled out of the building due to concerns that the roof might fail. The fire finally subsided enough that plant workers were able to remove the smoldering containers from the building.

About 40 firefighters from Albany and nearby Willamette Valley districts responded.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There was no immediate damage estimate.
-- The Associated Press

Here is another:

Cement smothers Prineville zirconium fire

Shovel sparks fierce fire; firm learned from previous blaze

POSTED: 12:20 PM PST November 27, 2012    UPDATED: 7:35 AM PST November 28, 2012 

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A spark from a shovel ignited a fierce fire in a pit of flammable zirconium in an industrial area west of Prineville late Tuesday morning, officials said. The blaze sent up a tall smoke plume for hours, prompting authorities to keep students in doors and urge that anyone with respiratory problems do so as well, and report any symptoms to 911.

Matt Smith, chief of Crook County Fire and Rescue, said the fire was reported around 11:20 a.m. at EnviroTech Services, a business at the Prineville Freight Depot about three miles west of town. The 2-year-old facility makes road de-icer and dust control products, according to a 2010 article on its Website.

A hazardous materials team from SMAF Environmental was called in and began pouring dry cement onto the fire to smother it.

The smoke was called an "irritant" and not a significant health threat, though officials were advising people with breathing problems to stay indoors as a precaution.

Fire Marshal Casey Kump later said a spark from a shovel or scoop on a machine (not a hand shovel) ignited the pile of metal filings, sparking the fire and smoke that "drew a great deal of concern in town," but had begun to dissipate by late afternoon.

Kump said the fire department worked in close coordination with Crook County Emergency Management Director Dave Dethman, as well as the sheriff's office, health department, Pioneer Memorial Hospital and area schools, which kept students indoors.

No evacuations were enacted, he said, and no injuries reported.

The company makes de-icer, and "zirconium is a byproduct of their process," Smith said. "Zirconium, when it's dried in a form of metal filings, is highly flammable. If a spark or something is near it, it can catch fire."

The material is located in a "not incredibly deep" containment pit, the fire chief said, adding that "everything worked as it should have," in terms of isolating the fire in the pit and preventing more problems.

"We have had, in the last year, one other fire regarding zirconium, and we have had a fire involving an excavator," Smith said.

Fire officials say the company learned from a similar fire a year ago. After that incident, a pit was dug to hold the metal shavings of zirconium.

"The containment pit worked as it was supposed to, and the fire was contained to that," Smith said.

An Oregon OSHA official said they agency had not inspected the facility but will be looking into what happened, though a representative did not classify it as a formal investigation.

Smoke from the fire drifted toward Prineville, and an inversion also was in place Tuesday, so Smith said "what is wood smoke, what is this smoke and what's fog is hard to say."

Kump said, "If residents in the area feel that the smoke is causing medical or respiratory problems, they should call 911."

And here is another:

Zirconium fire at Wah Chang causes no injuries or monetary damage

Democrat-Herald Albany Democrat Herald
December 01, 2010 2:59 pm  • 

At about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Albany firefighters responded to Wah Chang, 1600 Old Salem Road N.E., on a report that a mixer and conveyor were on fire inside building.

No one was hurt and no monetary damage was reported.

Smoke could be seen coming from the plant from half a mile away.

Zirconium metal fines caught fire, said Wanda Omdahl, Albany Fire Department spokeswoman. Fires involving the rare metal cannot be extinguished with water, she said.

“With rare metals you have to protect exposures and let it burn itself out,” Omdahl said. “It becomes explosive when you have water on it.”

A malfunctioning conveyor belt caused the zirconium to catch fire, she said.

The fire was initially called out as a first alarm, but quickly downgraded. An engine, a truck and a medic unit and about eight firefighers were on the scene.