Safety Alert: GE Halts Nuke Fuel Output

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 03:07 PM gHale


General Electric Co’s nuclear fuel unit Global Nuclear Fuels (GNF) suspended manufacturing at its North Carolina facility after warning horns failed to operate properly during a safety system test.

The GNF report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the alarm system at the facility north of Wilmington failed to immediately activate the horns as designed during the test.

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GNF said the problem was a hardware failure, specifically a capacitor on a circuit board, and they repaired the system.

“The malfunction did not have any impact on health or safety,” said GE Nuclear spokesman Michael Tetuan said, adding the company had not yet scheduled a restart of production.

All production activities shut down and personnel stayed away from the manufacturing area, the company said.

GE has manufactured fuel assemblies for boiling water reactors at its facilities near Wilmington since the late 1960s.

GNF started up in early 2000 when Hitachi and Toshiba purchased stakes of 18 percent and 22 percent respectively in the fuel manufacturing operation.

In its report to the NRC, the company said it determined problems with the warning system had existed at the time of previous tests in May and June but at the time they were “not adequately identified and thus not reported.”



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