NJ Nuke Shuts Down Again

Monday, May 11, 2015 @ 07:05 PM gHale

Once again, the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant in Lacey Township, NJ, shut down Friday. This time the reason was an electrical disturbance in the “non-nuclear” part of the plant, officials said.

“Operators responded appropriately and all systems functioned as designed,” spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio said. “Notifications were made to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and state officials as per procedure. The shutdown did not present any public health or safety risks.”

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The plant automatically shut down at 5:27 p.m., D’Ambrosio said.

The transformer ends up used to step up power produced by the plant before it goes out to the grid. It is on the non-nuclear side of the plant, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

The latest problem came just over a week after the NRC said it would ramp up scrutiny and conduct additional inspections at the plant after the discovery of past problems with electromatic relief valves, which help keep the reactor fuel covered and cool during a plant shutdown.

The NRC also issued a “yellow” classification about problems with the valves, which indicates ”substantial safety significance.” The federal agency also issued a “white” inspection finding, which means low to moderate safety significance, dealing with the maintenance of an emergency diesel generator at the plant in Lacey Township.

“These enforcement actions underscore the need for plant owners to be vigilant when it comes to maintaining essential safety equipment,” NRC Region I Administrator Dan Dorman said on April 28. “In the case of these issues, two components that can play an important role during a reactor shutdown either experienced or may have experienced material failures that could have prevented them from performing their functions when needed.”

Oyster Creek was already under additional NRC oversight in 2014 because of a “White” (low to moderate safety significance) performance indicator that stemmed from four unplanned shutdowns, or scrams, in 2013 and 2014.

The NRC ’s performance indicator for unplanned scrams for each 7,000 hours of operation changes from green to white if a nuclear plant has more than three unplanned shutdowns. Oyster Creek had a fourth unplanned shutdown July 11 last year.

Oyster Creek is the oldest nuclear plant in the United States, going online Dec. 23, 1969.

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