What started as a routine maintenance inspection ended up being a strong safety play as repairs to PPL Corp.’s nuclear reactors at its plant near Berwick, Pa., will cost the utility $50 million to $60 million, a plant spokesman said.
Unit 1 and Unit 2 at the Susquehanna nuclear power plant shut down from May 16 until June 24 to fix cracks on turbine blades. These blades power the unit pumps, which provide water to the reactors.
PPL shut down Unit 2 for routine maintenance April 5. During the inspection, officials discovered cracks on the unit’s turbine blades.
Both units contain the same type of blades, plant spokesman Joe Scopelliti said, so the utility shut down Unit 1 on May 16 to check its turbine blades. They also found cracks there.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said of the shutdowns. “If a turbine blade would break, it could ruin the turbine. If you ruin a turbine, no one has them on the shelf waiting for you.”
Nuclear power generation accounted for 29 percent of PPL’s total generation in 2010.
“It hasn’t happened very often in the past,” Scopelliti said of both units being offline. “There’s power we couldn’t generate and sell and power that we use. There was a lot going on, and it’s a pretty big project to last four to six weeks.”
Unit 1 returned to service June 24; Unit 2 wasn’t back up and running until last Wednesday, PPL said.