Degraded area in Pennsylvania nuclear plant poses no risk-FirstEnergy

Reuters

Oct 7 (Reuters) - FirstEnergy Corp said on Monday a

small area of degradation found in the steel containment liner

in one of the reactors at Pennsylvania's Beaver Valley nuclear

power plant poses no harm to the public, workers or the

environment.

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said workers found

the flaw on Friday during an inspection of the inside walls of

the containment building in the 892-megawatt Unit 1, which has

been shut since September 30 for a refueling and maintenance

outage.

The containment building is comprised of a 4.5-foot thick

concrete wall with a domed top and a 3/8-inch thick steel liner.

The degraded area is located about 7 inches (17.8

centimeters) from the floor and measures about 0.4 inches by

0.28 inches, she said.

Young did not say when the unit would return to service but

noted the company expects to fix the degraded area within the

current outage schedule.

Refueling outages usually last about a month but power

traders noted this outage could take up to two months because

the company is replacing the unit's two low pressure steam

turbine rotors. Each rotor weighs about 153 tons and measures

about 15 feet in diameter and about 30 feet in long.

Workers discovered the degraded area under a small paint

blister. The company determined there was a fibrous material -

most likely wood - inside the concrete touching the steel liner.

The company said the degradation likely occurred when the

material decayed.

Young said a similar event occurred in 2009 when workers

found a small area of degradation in another part of the steel

liner. In that case, the damage was caused by a wood spacer left

over from the concrete pour during construction.

She said the company in 2009 removed and replaced the

damaged steel and the area has not experienced any additional

degradation.

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PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE

STATE: Pennsylvania

TOWN: Shippingport in Beaver County, some 35 miles (56 km)

northwest of Pittsburgh

OPERATOR: FirstEnergy Nuclear

OWNER(S): FirstEnergy

CAPACITY: 1,777 MW

UNIT(S): - Unit 1 - 892-MW Westinghouse pressurized water

reactor (PWR)

- Unit 2 - 885-MW Westinghouse PWR

FUEL: Nuclear

DISPATCH: Baseload

TIMELINE:

1976 - Unit 1 enters service

1987 - Unit 2 enters service

2007 - FirstEnergy filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory

Commission to renew the reactors' original 40-year

operating licenses for another 20 years

2009 - NRC renews operating licenses

2036 - Unit 1 license expires

2047 - Unit 2 license expires

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