One of the world’s biggest nuclear reactors was shut down last Sunday by an unlikely foe: jellyfish. Sweden’s Oskarshamn reactor was closed when tons of jellyfish clogged up the pipes that supply the reactor with fresh water. It’s a problem that may seem like an anomaly, but it has happened before and scientists suggest that it is likely to get worse as overfishing and poor water conditions eliminate native fish populations.
In 2005, one of the reactors at Oskarshamn was shut off because of jellyfish and last year a reactor in California was shut down when sea salp – another jellyfish-like organism – clogged the pipes there. These types of boiling reactors require a constant supply of fresh cold water to keep them cool, so when that supply line is threatened, the whole reactor must be shut down before the temperature gets too high.
While we’ve heard of things like tsunamis and unstoppable leaks shutting down nuclear reactors, jellyfish seem like a fairly unlikely problem, at least when it comes to running a power plant. But because of the increasingly poor water conditions in our oceans, extreme jellyfish blooms are increasing as they move in to take over where fish can no longer survive. Overfishing can also reduce fish population, giving jellyfish ample room to move in. Because of this, it is likely that we will more such shut downs in the future.
via Huffington Post