PA Reactor Back Up after Shutdown

Monday, January 31, 2011 @ 02:01 PM gHale

One of the reactors at the nuclear power plant near Berwick, PA, is now back up and running after it shut down because of a steam leak.

PPL’s chief nuclear officer Timothy S. Rausch said they did shut down one of the reactors, there were no injuries and all safety equipment functioned as designed.

Plant operators at PPL’s Susquehanna Steam Electric Station decided to shut down reactor Unit 1 at 6:10 a.m. last week after they discovered steam leakage in an area where water preheats before feeding into the reactor, according to Neil Sheehan, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Public Affairs Officer for Region I.

Operators decided to manually shut the reactor down after determining they could not isolate the leak and they could not remove from service the portion of the system with the leak without affecting other plant systems, Sheehan said.

The second reactor continued to operate at full power, Rausch said.

“They behaved the way we hoped they would,” Sheehan said of the plant operators.

Because an NRC report on an incident at the power plant in July had a “white finding” and the likelihood that the plant will receive another such finding in relation to this incident, chances are good the plant will be moved up a level on the NRC’s “action matrix” – a multilevel designation system that determines the level of oversight the NRC feels necessary, Sheehan said.

The NRC uses a color-coded system to classify inspection findings, with the colors starting at “green,” or very low safety significance, and then increasing to “white,” “yellow” or “red,” commensurate with their significance.

The plant earned a white finding after the NRC determined inadequate maintenance and operating procedures led to internal flooding, a manual reactor shutdown and the loss of the plant’s normal heat sink on July 16.

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