Nuclear Plants Start Up, Shut Down

Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 05:07 PM gHale


A nuclear plant shut down because of a water leak is now back up and running, while a nuclear conversion plant will stay shut down until it agrees with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on upgrades.

Following a regulatory inspection that looked at preparedness for natural disasters such as strong earthquakes and tornadoes, Honeywell International Inc. said it is evaluating upgrades to its Metropolis Works nuclear conversion plant.

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The NRC inspected Honeywell’s Metropolis Works in Illinois as part of a comprehensive assessment of all U.S. nuclear-related facilities in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The company said it will not restart production at the facility, which has been undergoing maintenance since May, until they reach an agreement with the NRC.

The time line for the halt and the type of upgrades are still in the planning process, Honeywell said. The company said it could take 12 to 15 months to complete the upgrades and it could cut its full-time workforce in half during this period.

The chemical plant, which normally employs 332 employees when in full production, converts uranium ore into a compound that can produce enriched uranium.

Meanwhile, the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan returned to service following an unplanned outage to fix a water leak.

The 778-megawatt pressurized water reactor was operating at 22 percent power Wednesday, the NRC said. Operators shut the plant down June 12 when leakage at 31.4 gallons per day from the safety injection refueling water tank exceeded a regulatory limit, according to an agency event report. The collected water, with minor tritium contamination, went into a holding tank and did not pose a risk to the plant or the public, according to the report.

An Entergy spokesman said plant personnel had been monitoring the leak since April 28. The utility made repairs to the 300,000 gallon aluminum tank that facilitates the removal of spent fuel and can serve as a backup source of water in an emergency.



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