For the first time in recorded history, a tiny, gelatinous sea creature known as a sea salp is responsible for shutting down a nuclear power plant!
Thousands of the creatures have invaded the cooling water intake cove at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California. Salps are small marine animals similar to jellyfish that are typically 2 to 3 inches long. They often link together and float in the water in long rope-like formations. It seems the creatures drifted along the current and winded up floating into the cooling system.
The salp can reproduce both sexually and asexually, and this gives them the ability to multiply quickly, a phenomenon called a bloom. Thousands of the creatures can then form together, floating along the ocean current, often drifting hundreds of miles.
At one point, there were so many of the creatures clogging the cooling tank valves that the system had to be shut down temporarily until the salp could be removed. With the temporary shutdown of Diablo Canyon, California’s two nuclear power plants are now offline. The San Onofre nuclear generating station in Orange County has been offline for three months following the discovery of leaks in the plant’s steam generators.