Steam problem triggers shutdown of Vogtle reactor

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 7:24 PM
Last updated Thursday, April 10, 2014 4:42 AM
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ATLANTA — Plant Vogtle’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor shut down automatically Tuesday morning as a result of a loss of steam pressure, Southern Nuclear announced Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear, the sister company of Georgia Power that operates Plant Vogtle, said there were no injuries or release of radioactive material. The plant’s Unit 1 was already out of operation due to refueling and maintenance. Two additional reactors are under construction at the site near Waynesboro.

“The cause of the shutdown is being thoroughly investigated by our highly trained plant employees. Once the repairs are complete, employees will focus on bringing the unit safely back online,” said Jeannine Bailey, Southern Nuclear’s communications director.

The company reported the outage as required an hour after it occurred to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will review the incident before the reactor can be restarted.

The event comes on the eve of the NRC’s annual assessment of the two existing units on April 24.

Tom Clements, director of the Savannah River Site Watch environmental advocacy group, said the shutdown could have damaged the reactor.

“A ‘reactor trip’ is an unplanned event that puts stress on the reactor and is to be avoided. It appears that the shutdown took place as planned and that the reactor is being properly cooled, which is good to see,” he said.

He expressed frustration that neither Southern Nuclear or Georgia Power issued a news release about the shutdown until contacted by a reporter.

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itsanotherday1 04/09/14 - 10:28 pm

"He expressed frustration that neither Southern Nuclear or Georgia Power issued a news release about the shutdown until contacted by a reporter."

With the multiple redundancies built into these systems, trips are not uncommon and are typically considered "routine" in terms of severity.

"Savannah River Site Watch environmental advocacy group" says it all.

COULD have damaged the reactor? Someone could trip and fall against a valve that COULD damage the reactor if the sun, moon, and stars are in alignment.

at0mgrrl 04/10/14 - 09:19 am

Funny comment that an astrological alignment could cause harm to the Vogtle reactors even as the news reports Mars Earth and Sun in rare alignment ... One recalls another outage long ago and far away when Vogtle was new and a truck backed into a power pole causing a station blackout and the emergency diesel generators wouldn't run. The reactor was in mid-loop operations with reduced water and water pressure and an open hatch as the standing water heated up more than 1 degree per minute towards the boiling point. Two of the diesels were out for maintenance and the other two kept tripping off due to star-crossed safety valves that had oil on them overheated. Turned out, after a narrow escape which revolutionized NRC outage regulations nationwide, that highly placed Southern Co managment had been lying about the diesels' reliability to the NRC. I would say, rather, that nothing worse has happened at Vogtle, or Fukushima-style Hatch reactors in Vidalia, is due to lucky stars which have protected us so far from nuclear catastrophe in Georgia.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 04/10/14 - 10:18 am
trips aren't good

What's the number of reactor trips allowed before a reactor is put on the NRC's list to get additional scrutiny? As trips could indicate chronic problems, it's not a lot over a given period of time

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