VA Reactors Down to Fix Water Leak

Friday, October 23, 2015 @ 11:10 AM gHale

Both nuclear reactors at Dominion Virginia Power’s Surry County plant shut down to repair water leaks, a utility official said.

The first unit shut down over the weekend for planned maintenance to repair seals on one of the three reactor coolant pumps, spokesman Rick Zuercher said.

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Unit 2 ended up deactivated Monday after failed attempts to repair a spray valve that is part of its coolant system.

The leaks amounted to 1,000 gallons, all of which workers captured and processed for reuse once the reactors are running, Zuercher said. Each reactor’s coolant system operates with about 71,000 gallons of water.

“These happen occasionally. They’re not significant,” Zuercher said. “There are levels of leakage that require us to shut down, but these did not rise to that level. We always try to capture problems when they’re small and fix them so they don’t become big problems.”

The nuclear power station, one of two operated by Dominion in Virginia, typically produces 1,676 megawatts, or enough to power about 420,000 homes. Nuclear power provides electricity for about 40 percent of Dominion’s customers in the state.

The Surry plant, completed in the 1970s, has a license for Unit 1 to operate through 2032 and for Unit 2 through 2033. Dominion is considering applying for another 20-year renewal license on each unit.

This spring, the two reactors went offline for refueling. The reactors typically operate for 18 months between refueling periods.

A leaking pump on the Unit 2 reactor in January led officials to reduce the generator’s output to 60 percent while they repaired it.

Zuercher said he expects the reactors to return to service soon, but declined to specify a time.

“Obviously we would rather have at least one unit operating, but we always take the conservative approach to operating nuclear plants, which means the safe approach,” he said.