Steam problem triggers shutdown of Vogtle reactor

 

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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