Image: Jellyfish: Nuclear Reactor in Sweden Shut Down by Wave of Jellies

Jellyfish: Nuclear Reactor in Sweden Shut Down by Wave of Jellies

Wednesday, 02 Oct 2013 02:28 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A wave of jellyfish forced a Swedish nuclear reactor to shut down on Sunday, after tons of the marine animals reportedly obstructed the pipes that allow for cool water to enter the plant's turbines.

The destructive jellyfish cluster, which marine biologists warn could become more common, affected reactor number three at the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden, The Associated Press reported.

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The jellyfish-packed pipes were cleared as of Tuesday, and the plant was ready to restart the reactor later in the day, according to Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for the plant, the Guardian reported.

The plant is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world and is responsible for producing 10 percent of Sweden's electrical needs.

A byproduct of the energy produced by the nuclear reactor plants is the warming of waters in certain parts of the ocean, according to marine biologists.

Varied temperatures throughout the ocean could trigger changes in the natural "bloom" cycle for jellyfish, giving way to large scale gatherings of the translucent animals in areas of the ocean where they had not previously existed, Popular Science reported.

"It's true that there seems to be more and more of these extreme cases of blooming jellyfish," Lene Moller, a researcher at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, told the AP. "But it's very difficult to say if there are more jellyfish, because there is no historical data."

Moon jellyfish, which are approximately 25 to 40 cm in diameter, were responsible for this weekend's Oskarshamn nuclear plant shutdown.

"It's one of the species that can bloom in extreme areas that are overfished or have bad conditions," Moller added. "The moon jelly likes these types of waters. They don't care if there are algae blooms, they don't care if the oxygen concentration is low. The fish leave and (the moon jelly) can really take over the ecosystem."

This isn't the first time a nuclear power plant was shut down as a result of blooming jellyfish.

In 2005, the Oskarshamn plant's reactor number one was shut down by an influx of jellyfish.

Last year, the California-based Diablo Canyon facility had to shut off its reactor due to the gathering of a jellyfish-like organism, known as sea salp, which also congested its intake pipes.

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