NC Nuclear Plant OK’d to Restart

Thursday, June 6, 2013 @ 05:06 PM gHale

Shearon Harris nuclear plant reactor just outside of Raleigh, NC, can now restart after Duke Energy Corp. fixed a year-old problem with the reactor vessel’s covering, said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The nuclear facility shut down May 15 and Charlotte-based Duke Energy’s subsidiary Duke Energy Progress operates the plant. A Duke Energy spokeswoman said because of competitive reasons, the company was not revealing when the plant will begin generating electricity.

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“We have verified that the condition has been corrected and the plant can be operated safely,” NRC Southeast regional manager Victor McCree said in a prepared statement.

The company and regulators said there was no evidence of radiation leakage from a quarter-inch spot of corrosion and cracking in the reactor vessel head, which contains heat and pressure produced by the nuclear core’s energy. Officials found the problem as plant operators prepared for an upcoming refueling outage by reviewing results from ultrasonic testing gathered during a refueling outage last spring.

The NRC dispatched two specialized inspectors from its regional offices in Atlanta to supplement the plant’s resident inspectors in assessing the events leading up to the discovery of the problem.

Duke Energy took over the Harris plant after it acquired Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc. last year, which made it the country’s largest electric company.

NRC staffers will hold a public meeting June 13 to discuss the special inspection launched to understand why no one discovered the flaw after last year’s testing. Preliminary findings of the inspection team will the topic of the meeting. The final inspection report will release in mid-July, the NRC said.

“Although there was no threat to people living near the plant, we felt it was important to conduct a follow-up meeting to answer questions residents might have,” McCree said.

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