Three Mile Island Down, Again

Monday, September 24, 2012 @ 04:09 PM gHale

A problem with a reactor coolant pump caused an automatic shutdown of Three Mile Island (TMI) Thursday, plant officials said.

The pump helps to circulate water through the reactor coolant system, TMI officials said. When the pump shut down, that triggered the plant to automatically shut down.

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The amount of radiation released was so small it is not measurable, officials said.
On Thursday, residents in the area heard a loud noise, which was the result of steam releasing, officials said.

Plant spokesman Ralph DeSantis said there is no health risk and the public is not in danger.

“There’s absolutely no danger whatsoever to the public health and safety. We have design features in the plant that when something unusual occurs in the plant, the plant would automatically shut down and that’s what happened today,” DeSantis said.

Plant officials said the repair process is slow and they are not sure when the plant will return to service.

Officials said they will test the pump once they repair it and they will review maintenance procedures to prevent the same problem from happening again.

In late August, TMI underwent a manual shutdown after they discovered issues with a heater element on the plant’s pressurizer tank, said Ralph DeSantis, a spokesman for the plant.

The element creates additional steam that helps control pressure in the plant, he said. The reactor must be offline for workers to repair the element.

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