Quake Plant Leaks Water

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 02:10 PM gHale

The North Anna Power Station shut down because of the August earthquake in Virginia leaked about 272 gallons of nonradioactive industrial water into Lake Anna last week when a cooling basin overflowed, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials said.

In an event report, the NRC said plant operators first noticed early Friday the basin was overflowing. Water from the basin cools bearings on the plant’s main feed pumps, condensate pumps and main generators.

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A leaky valve overfilled the basin, and workers discovered it later when they found an indicator alarm had malfunctioned.

The basin water contains small amounts of chlorine used to kill bacteria that could affect other plant equipment, said Richard Zuercher, spokesman for Dominion power’s nuclear operations.

The amount of chlorine in the water was within environmental limits, he said. “But the pathway to the lake was not an approved discharge point,” so the company notified Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Water from the bearing cooling basin has no connection to water used to cool North Anna’s two nuclear reactors.

In December 2009, up to 59,500 gallons of bearing cooling water discharged into Lake Anna, because of a loss of power to North Anna’s Unit 2.

Meanwhile, Dominion will not be able to restart the 1,806-megawatt North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia until sometime after an Oct. 21 meeting, NRC officials said.

The North Anna plant shut down safely following the Aug. 23 earthquake in Virginia, but NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said he could not say when the NRC would be ready to allow Dominion to restart the plant’s two reactors.

At the Oct. 21 meeting at the NRC headquarters in Rockville, MD, the NRC said the commissioners will hear presentations from Dominion and the management of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation and the NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta.

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