A potential shutdown of an Israeli power plant due to invasion by a swarm of giant jellyfish has been averted, local media have reported.  

Israel Electric Corporation’s 2250 MW Rutenberg coal-fired power plant in the coastal city of Ashkelon – the nation’s newest and second-largest thermal power station – uses sea water in its cooling systems, which leaves it vulnerable to invasion by seagoing creatures.

“Our coal-fired power stations are located by the sea because it takes a lot of water to cool them down,” Israel Electric spokesperson Iris Ben-Shahal told Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “At that entry point of the water into the cooling systems, we have filters to keep foreign bodies out,” she explained. “The jellyfish, and other things like sea plants, stick to the filters and clog them.”

Although jellyfish swarms cannot be predicted, the plant operators were reportedly prepared for the influx. Workers repeatedly cleared the filters during the swarm, moving the creatures to special containers for subsequent disposal. Getting rid of them entails either returning them to the sea or burying them in co-operation with the Environment Ministry, Ben-Shahal said.

Jellyfish experts have identified the swarm as Rhopilema nomadic, a species originating in the Indian and Pacific Oceans which is viewed as invasive in the Mediterranean Sea.

An ongoing rise in the jellyfish population could mean more trouble for seaside nuclear and coal-fired power plants worldwide, the United Nations has warned. Intake pipes at Sweden’s Oskarshamm nuclear power plant were clogged with jellyfish in 2013, while previous incidents forced shutdowns at Israel’s Orot-Rabin coal-fired plant, where jellyfish clogged intake filters, and both Scotland’s Torness and California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plants, where they blocked water filters.  

Photo: Reuters