Pumps Fail at AL Nuke

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 @ 11:05 AM gHale

After the power supply temporarily halted to two recirculation pumps that supply water to the reactor core one of the reactors at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, AL, automatically shut down last Tuesday.

The trip of the two pumps at the Unit 3 reactor at Browns Ferry caused the unit to cease power generation around 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday. TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said feedwater pumps maintained water in the reactor core, but the unit automatically shut down as designed when water levels covering the fuel rods dropped by about 40 inches.

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“We still had 13 feet over the reactor rods and the water was quickly restored to the previous level (of about 17 feet above the fuel rods),” Hopson said. “We continue to investigate the causes of this incident, but the reactor shut down automatically and there was no safety risk from this event.”

TVA is keeping the reactor on standby until they complete the investigation, Hopson said.

Hopson said they corrected the problems on Unit 3 and are not similar to those of the other two Browns Ferry units.

“But we will continue to look at all of our equipment and procedures at all three units,” Hopson said.

Browns Ferry has had only a limited number of reactor trips in recent years — far fewer than at the single unit Pilgrim Nuclear Plant in Massachussets, a similar boiling water reactor plant like Browns Ferry. The Pilgrim plant had six unplanned reactor shutdowns in 2013.

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