Equipment failure shuts down Vogtle reactor

Cooling towers for Plant Vogtle Units 1 and 2 as seen from the Savannah River.

Plant Vogtle’s Unit 1 was shut down during active nuclear operations Friday afternoon because of a failed component in one of the unit’s steam lines, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission documents released Monday.

Southern Nuclear, the operating company at Plant Vogtle, reported the failure of its main steam isolation valve to the NRC Friday, indicating the shutdown occurred just before 4 p.m.

According to reports to the NRC, the nuclear fuel in the reactor is still “hot,” or activated, but is being kept cool by the auxiliary feedwater system. According to a spokesperson, the systems are essentially operating normally, but the steam from the reactor is just not being used to push the turbines until repairs are complete.

During a recent visit to the site, a Southern Nuclear spokesperson said, “Safety is the primary concern out here. We always have a backup to a backup system.”

A company spokesman released a statement Monday morning and said there was no threat to people or the environment from the equipment failure.

The statement cited an o-ring in the steam valve for causing the operational failure and said site technicians reacted appropriately to keep the situation under control. The steam lines are used to control the steam volume and temperature between the reactor and the turbines used to produce electricity.

The company was unable to release a timeline or any details about repairs but did say that repairs were already underway. The reactor in Unit 1 is currently listed in a “Hot Standby” operational status.

Thomas Gardiner can be reached at (706) 823-3339 or thomas.gardiner@augustachronicle.com.

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Thu, 03/30/2017 - 00:53

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