back to article D'oh! Misplaced chair shuts down nuclear plant in Taiwan

A reactor at Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Taiwan malfunctioned on Tuesday morning, triggering an auto shutdown that resulted in the loss of 985 megawatts of power – all due to the misplacement of a chair. The plant owner, state-run Taipower, said the incident did not cause any grid power outages, although the power supply …

  1. Joe W Silver badge
    Coat

    it was always the (dry) cleaner (doesn't the icon look like somebody working in one of them places?)

    At least it is a change from unplugging some equipment to plug in the vacuum cleaner...

    1. DailyLlama
      Holmes

      Re: it was always the (dry) cleaner

      "doesn't the icon look like somebody working in one of them places?"

      Only if you've caught your cleaners rifling through your coat pockets...

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: it was always the (dry) cleaner

        I thought the cleaners always went through the pockets, because they don't want weird stuff interacting with the chemicals. Sometimes if I have left an item in a pocket, I have found the item in a bag pinned inside a random pocket. If there were times I left an item and didn't get it back, I don't know about it.

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: it was always the (dry) cleaner...

      That's exactly how the great AI that controlled its own power supply and could read peoples intentions was finally deactivated (classic SF tale). The AI didn't detect the intention.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: it was always the (dry) cleaner...

        ZEN Repair monitors report explosive device attached to primary power channel.

        BLAKE Where?

        ZEN Hold three, access duct seven.

        BLAKE Can the automatics neutralize it?

        ZEN No.

        BLAKE Why not?

        ZEN There is no damage.

        AVON Computer logic. Until the bomb explodes there is nothing for the repair system to repair. Zen, can you reprogram the automatics?

        ZEN Preemptive interference in crew activity is forbidden.

        BLAKE Oh, he'll clear up after us, but he won't stop us making a mess. (Exits, running down passageway)

        AVON (Moves to follow him) You made this mess.

        1. TheProf Silver badge
          Pirate

          Confirmed

          Ah good old Blake's 7.

          I've just finished watching series two and I can't belive how awful the sets were. And a lot of the acting. And also one or two or three of the scripts. The plots were a bit of a mixed bag as well.

          Having said that it's still better than a lot of stuff made in the 21st century.

          I can't decide whether or not to stump up for the other series and continue my DVD torture.

          1. EricPodeOfCroydon

            Re: Confirmed

            Ah, but it also had Soolin!

            1. Blofeld's Cat

              Re: Confirmed

              "Ah, but it also had Soolin!"

              Also Servalan, one of the best villains ever.

              1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

                Servalan

                Sadly no longer with us. She was rather lovely, wasn't she...but those sets...the display with the pasted on graphs...

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: Servalan

                  I rather enjoy the terrible minimum-budget sets of old BBC SF, actually. And the hammy over-acting. It's all part of the fun.

                  Of course I grew up with Tom Baker-era Doctor Who (which makes me a relative youngster here on the Reg). Even met the man once when he was the featured speaker at a local convention. That rather colors my judgement.

            2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

              Re: Confirmed

              And Servalan!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Confirmed

            I recently watched it all. Some of it held up well, some not so much.

            The biggest thing I realise now, that I obviously didn't notice as a child is that Avon has to be the shittest leader ever. Most of the crew deaths and the destruction of the Liberator were entirely down to him. Then, he went and killed Blake.

            There were also some appallingly sexist episodes. Any written by Ben Steed were almost unwatchable. He seems to have a very low opinion of women.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Confirmed

            It was a mixed bag - some quite good stories, started off quite well. Bought the DVD box set (I wasn't allowed to stay up late to watch it as too young). If I'll binge watch it again, I may skip one DVD - just seemed to be full of stories of telepathic aliens.

            Did watch some of the commentaries - Avon actor talking about Firefly, so started watching that as well.

          4. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Confirmed

            its on britbox, do a free trial & watch them that way on the cheap

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it was always the (dry) cleaner ...

      "doesn't the icon look like somebody working in one of them places?"

      Or someone doing sexual favours for an invisible man?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the incident took place early in the morning when demand was low"

    Unless someone has ignored the timezone, I would have expected 6:30am to be getting close to a peak time.

    People getting ready or travelling to work, offices and factories starting up...

  3. Keith Oborn

    Three MIle Island-

    The controls were so identical that the operators customised them with beer pump handles etc to tell them apart.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Let me guess

    Tibor did it? Or was it Zutroy?

    Obligatory icon!

  5. TRT Silver badge

    Isn't the acrylic shield supposed to STOP that kind of accidental operation??

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Happy

      Bored in the wee small hours...office chair race?

      oops.

      We were moving it to clean, honest...

    2. Brian Miller

      The shield prevents a face- or palm-plant action, not an oopsie-slide-it-up-bump action. I'm guessing that the chair arm could come up over the edge of the console, and bump things.

      On the positive side, the power plant should be shut down in a couple of years.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        WTF?

        > The shield prevents a face- or palm-plant action, not an oopsie-slide-it-up-bump action

        Usually, to protect vaguely important switches from accidents and furniture, there are also metal security rails on both sides of the cover, so the only way to open the cover is by a narrow object like a finger moving upwards.

        The fact such an important switch could be reached by a chair is astonishing. I would had expected it to be on some control panel, well out of reach of chairs and other heavy, erratically moving objects.

        1. eldakka Silver badge
          Coat

          > The fact such an important switch could be reached by a chair is astonishing. I would had expected it to be on some control panel, well out of reach of chairs and other heavy, erratically moving objects.

          Maybe the cleaner also works in restaurants where they tend to put the chairs on top of tables/desks for easy cleaning of the floor under the table and used that technique here?

      2. detuur

        2023 is when its operating permit expires. This doesn't mean that it's going to shut down then, necessarily. Usually permits are extended. Only if the political winds have shifted and/or there are major security failings do such extensions fail to materialise, and the plant gets shut down.

  6. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Wet cleanup in control room

    I suspect that additional carpet cleaning was needed when the klaxons went off and all the control room displays started flashing red.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Wet cleanup in control room

      I wouldn't be so sure it's only a wet clean up!

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Wet cleanup in control room

      Carpet in the control room?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wet cleanup in control room

        Yep, we have them... :) Demarcation by colour shows transit access vs. operational access areas.

        https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/the-control-room-at-sizewell-b-nuclear-power-station-in-sizewell-picture-id834040068?s=2048x2048

  7. rafff

    system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

    Britain does not have that much reserve, even at the best of times. We only have about 2% spare capacity.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

      That would explain the occasional momentary switch-over dropouts that play havoc with the Vermin Media router, but don't even empty the caps in the PSU of my desktop PC.

      On an unrelated note, does anyone know why a cable modem needs to take 15 minutes to reboot?

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        "On an unrelated note, does anyone know why a cable modem needs to take 15 minutes to reboot?"

        Absolutely not an expert in this area, but I think they (and DSL kit) need that time to analyse the line and the signal so they can optimise the transmit/receive parameters and get the best speed. No need for that when we were only stuffing 300 bps down the line :)

      2. DJV Silver badge

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        Is it the (S)Hitron business one?

        I "upgraded" my domestic account to business one as it was cheaper (no, I have no idea why either) and they swapped out my perfectly working (and boot in a couple of minutes) superhub for a pile of crap (S)Hitron one (with the 10 to 15 minutes reboot time). About 5 replacements down the line (and much swearing to VM Business) I finally had one whose admin interface didn't die after about an hour*. The faulty ones would still work ok for providing a connection to teh interwebs but the on-board web server would die so you couldn't change the settings.

        * No, it died after a few months instead until a recent** automatic update revived it again.

        ** 40 Days,15 Hours,48 Minutes,44 Seconds ago - yay, it's still working!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

          "yay, it's still working"

          But is it still working now. After all, you've just issued a challenge to Murphy.

          1. DJV Silver badge

            Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

            Just checked. Murphy is obviously having a day off - the uptime results now stated as:

            41 Days,09 Hours,21 Minutes,01 Seconds

            Of course, I'm definitely not expecting it to stay up from now on...

      3. Noram

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        Our one usually only takes a minute or two to reboot if we do it manually.

        I suspect if it's taking 15 minutes there are probably a load of other modems doing it at the same time (which would be about right if it's rebooting due to a power glitch), thus causing a bit of a jam in the system as potentially hundreds/thousands try to do their checks and authentication.

        There might also be a delay if the local street boxes are also attempting to restart as I don't think VM/ntl/BY were very good at maintaining the back up batteries.

      4. Bitsminer Bronze badge

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        On an unrelated note, does anyone know why a cable modem needs to take 15 minutes to reboot?

        systemd

      5. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        Get a UPS...

    2. Killing Time

      Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

      I think you may be confusing 'spinning reserve' with operating reserve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        Spinning reserve accounts for the largest loss on the system such that the frequency loss is contained within certain time limits. The largest single loss is currently around 1200MW, so at the current demand of 26358MW that is 4.5%

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

      Quite frankly that statement is rubbish.

      For instance, right now, UK demand is 26358MW (elexon data)

      There is currently zero pumped storage output, the declared pumped storage capacity today is 1932MW, and that is just for one ‘fuel type’ or to put it another way 7.3% reserve

      Gas is currently generating at 6432MW with a declared availability of 20413MW

      Technical capacity of all UK generating sources including embedded generation is over 100GW, the peak demand being sub 50GW this past winter. Not my made up figures, those are taken from BEIS DUKES and National Grid’s winter forecast and post event reports.

      Generation capacity is secured through the capacity market on a rolling basis one to four years ahead such that at winter peak the derated margin is somewhere between 5 and 10%

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        100GW?

        So more than enough for a trip in a Delorean then?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

        "Technical capacity of all UK generating sources including embedded generation is over 100GW,"

        Ah yes, "embedded generation" and related theories. Thing is, theory's great until you need it to work in practice.

        As it'll soon be 9 August again, interested readers might want to look at the various reports and analyses of the UK power network events of 9 Aug 2019.

        Might be interesting to look at the difference between theory and practice in the "capacity market" too.

        Random starting points:

        BBC News:

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49300025 (10 Aug)

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49402296 (20 Aug)

        Ofgem:

        https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2020/07/national_grid_eso_report_lfdd_9_august_2019.pdf

        https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2019/09/eso_technical_report_-_final.pdf

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

          A near simultaneous loss of two blocks of generation, well above what is deemed credible with a lightning strike thrown in for good measure.

          Shit happens. No one died.

          It also showed what an utter shambles the software on the German supplied trains was.

          As for the capacity market, now the EU and particularly the Austrians have been officially told to bugger off it might start working even better.

  8. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Homer

    Homer would be proud.

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Homer

      Bored staff were probably doing a re-enactment of a Simpsons episode.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Homer

      Homer would be prouder still of finding a bogey shaped like Moe.

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    I always said tidying up leads to problems.

    > The reactor in question is scheduled to pump out power until March 2023, when its operating permit expires

    Although the cleaners' operating permit expired later that same day.

  10. Amentheist
    Alert

    Ok...

    Definitely beats the story about the electrician accidentally leaning on the diesel generator emergency shutdown button during datacentre power maintenance.

  11. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    Mmm...donuts.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Donuts are on a special today -- buy one hole, get a second hole free.

  12. DropBear

    Picard facepalm

    That a chair _could_ do this is absolutely asinine, and a full-blown design disgrace.

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Picard facepalm

      > That a chair _could_ do this is absolutely asinine, and a full-blown design disgrace.

      "Oh, this is why the plant designers said only the $20k e.a. certified chairs should be used, instead of the $100 local office supply shop chairs, oops!"

  13. skeptical i
    Devil

    Room design didn't pass the sugared-up-kids safety test

    A couple of hours of sugared-up kids running around, playing demo-derby with office chairs, climbing on desks, and whatever else the wee'uns get up to would have revealed potential problems with the acrylic switch cover. Donuts ... not just yummy but a critical part of infrastructure testing.

  14. Bob.

    About 4 of our Server Techs were sacked when it was found they were playing cricket in the Server Room and using a Server cabinet for the stumps

    There was some anger since it caused glitches for people working on 'very important stuff'

    They were lucky they weren't locked in and the Halon gas system activated

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      So something like 3 to 5k in recruitment costs together with significant extra work for the remaining technicians until the posts were filled?

      Seems a little self-defeating?

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Well of course they used a server cabinet. What did you expect them to use, a tape rack?

  15. Peter Ford
    Mushroom

    At least it was the 'off' switch

    And not the 'shutdown all the cooling and disable the interlocks to see what happens' switch...

  16. ForthIsNotDead
    Coat

    So what we're saying is...

    ..."It's bad, but not terrible" :-)

    -->

  17. Jake Maverick

    Probably a good thing when you think about it.....I just hope incidents like this aren't in future used as an excuse to downgrade the safety features!

  18. Thomas Steven 1

    Who Me? in ten years time

    Dave, for that is certainly not his name was working in a power plant in Taiwan on the fateful morning in question As early mornings in a nuclear power plant are quiet, the crew's management had instituted a cleaning regimen, ostensibly in the name of building team morale and keeping everyone awake. The crew suspected that much of the cleaning effort was also aimed at keeping the reactor control room looking as new as possible because the operators wanted to get their operating license, which was due to expire in 2023, extended for a further five years, and were running a PR campaign to achieve just that.

    Of course what was really happening was that a bunch of tired control room operators were lacklusterly going through the motions when the inevitable happened...

  19. Herring`

    ... setting off a chain reaction that tripped the main steam turbine and stopped the reactor...

    Technically it stopped a chain reaction.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I replaced some batteries in a UPS last week. Did it while everything was powered on. Took every bit of care I possibly could.

    Then I tried putting the front plastic cover back on upside down. It pressed the power to OFF and everything went down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Another freak accident

      It happens more than we know..

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musta been a defectivebox..

    how does one tilt a solid plastic cover, with a chair back slipping inside and somehow flipping a switch to turn chernoble down lol .. did the chair have an arms jacket on it? ;)

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