Equipment malfunction shuts down a Vogtle reactor

An equipment malfunction has caused one of Vogtle Electric Generating Plant’s two nuclear reactors to go offline.

Authorities at the plant are still investigating what caused the problem at 8 p.m. Monday. but they believe some sort of equipment issue resulted in the loss of a condenser vacuum in Unit 1, according to Alyson Fuqua, a spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear, which operates Plant Vogtle. The vacuum sucks water from the condenser pumps and supplies it to the turbine, she said. There was no loss of water to the reactor side of the machine.

“The plant automatically shut down and all the safety features acted as designed,” Ms. Fuqua said Wednesday. “It’s completely stable but the reactor is still down.”

The company is pulling power off of the grid, which includes natural gas and coal power plants, to supply their customers. Ms. Fuqua said no homes or business have lost power because of the incident.

Each reactor generates about 1230 megawatts of electricity which supplies more than 300,000 homes.

A “root-cause team” is investigating the shutdown to determine what exactly caused the malfunction, she said.

Site work is underway at Vogtle as the company prepares for the construction of the nation’s first two nuclear reactors in decades. A $14.5 billion project, the two reactors will produce 1,170 megawatts apiece and are expected to go online in 2016 and 2017.

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