NEW HILL – Duke Energy’s nuclear power plant just south of the Triangle has found its second flaw this year.
WRAL reports that the Shearon Harris plant was shut down Nov. 9 for refueling during which time an ultrasonic inspection found a microscopic crack in a nozzle.
A Duke Energy representative said the public is in no danger due to the flaw.
Shearon Harris is located 25 miles southeast of Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/shearon-harris-plant-finds-second-flaw-year/
Photo courtesy of Nimur
NEW HILL – Equipment malfunction at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in New Hill—just more than 25 miles southeast of Chapel Hill—set off alarms at around 3:00 a.m. Thursday; the plant’s owner, Duke Energy, reports no radioactive material has leaked.
The alert was cancelled at around 5:00 a.m.
The reported equipment failure resulted in the loss of power to non-safety related equipment. As a precaution, emergency response facilities were being put in place early Thursday morning. There are also sirens set up in a ten-mile planning zone around the plant. Duke Energy officials said crews were standing by to activate those if needed and that they do not expect the situation to get any worse.
This is the second incident since May at the Shearon Harris plant when a microscopic crack was found in one of the plant’s reactors forcing it to be shut down and repaired in early June.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/shearon-harris-nuclear-plant-on-alert-early-thursday/
CHAPEL HILL – The unexpected shutdown of the Shearon Harris nuclear plant last week— just more than 25 miles southeast of Chapel Hill— has sparked an investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plant was closed due to the discovery of a crack in a nuclear reactor.
The NRC held an annual review meeting of the plant Monday and took questions from public about last week’s shutdown.
Jim Warren of the watchdog group NC WARN attended the meeting.
“One key concern is why did that crack remain unnoticed for at least a year?” Warren said.
Duke Energy spokesperson Valerie Patterson told WCHL following the incident that Duke Power performed the NRC-mandated inspections in 2012 during the plants scheduled refueling outage.
“However, as we were preparing for our upcoming refueling outage this fall, we reevaluated some inspection data that we had from that outage, and that reevaluation revealed a small flaw, which could affect one reactor vessel head penetration,” Patterson said.
She says the flaw was discovered during a review of ultrasonic data that showed a quarter-inch crack in the lid on top of the vessel that holds in superheated water under high pressure.
Warren says the NRC did not provide answers concerning the crack during its presentation.
“We want to see the NRC investigation go forward and try to make sure we find out when they knew about it, how did they know it, and did they cut corners causing them to miss this diagnosis of the crack,” Warren said.
Duke Energy took over the plant after its merger with Progress Energy last summer. The North Carolina Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) co-owns the plant as well.
Duke Energy maintains that no radioactive material was leaked from the plant.
“This was something that was in a part of the system where there have been problems at other problems around the county, and is a key safety issue,” Warren said. “Even on their best, running the plant is a challenge. When things go wrong, that creates more of a challenge.”
Shearon Harris will remain closed until the crack is repaired.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/questions-remain-following-shearon-harris-shutdown/
NEW HILL, NC - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) wants to know if earlier detection could have been made of the flaw that shut down Duke Energy Progress’ Shearon Harris nuclear plant.
“Did they follow the right procedures in looking at this originally?” NRC spokersperson, Roger Hannah asks. “Should they have seen it initially, and how did they see it this time when it was apparently missed earlier.”
Duke Energy spokesperson Valerie Patterson says the company performed the NRC-mandated inspections in 2012 during the plants scheduled refueling outage.
“However, as we were preparing for our upcoming refueling outage this fall, we reevaluated some inspection data that we had from that outage, and that reevaluation revealed a small flaw, which could affect one reactor vessel head penetration,” Patterson says.
The flaw was discovered during a review of ultrasonic data that showed a quarter-inch crack in the lid on top of the vessel that holds in superheated water under high pressure.
Upon discovery of the flaw, officials of the nuclear plant located just more than 25 miles southeast of Chapel Hill performed a complete shut down. Patterson says officials were able to determine that there is no threat to the public after the crack was found in one of its 65 reactor vessels.
The Shearon Harris plant is co-owned by Duke Energy—which is the operator—and the North Carolina Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA).
Patterson says it is Duke Energy’s policy not to release information regarding how long its plants are shut down because it is proprietary and market information.
Hannah says, while the NRC is not the entity maintaining the plant, he believes the repair process could be lengthy due to the sensitive nature.
“Because of the high radiation in that area, they would use some sort of robotic equipment to affect these repairs,” Hannah says. “It is something that obviously takes a little more time and a little more involvement than a normal weld would.”
Patterson says due to the additional sources of energy-producing facilities such as hydro and coal plants, the systems operations center says the closure should not affect any Duke Energy Progress customers.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/no-threat-detected-from-shearon-harris-flaw/