A reactor in the process of restarting had to shut down after a pipe leaked water onto electrical equipment and caused at smoke incident at the Exelon nuclear plant in Cordova, IL, last Wednesday.
Two days after the Unit 2 reactor shut down for work on a valve, the fire broke out just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Quad Cities Generating Station.
Firefighters and equipment from at least four departments ended up called to the plant. Cordova Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Smalley later said 68 personnel responded from various departments.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or area impact associated with the fire. Exelon spokesman Bill Stoermer later said employees evacuated as a precaution, but that no one was in any danger from the incident.
Exelon classified the incident as an “alert,” which is the second-lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Stoermer said smoke was visible, but said it may have come from an electrical “short” and they are still trying to determine if there was a fire.
“It appears that there could have been an electrical short,” Stoermer said. “There is a lot of electrical cabling, as you can imagine, inside the power plant. So, they’ll take a hard look at all of their electrical cabling and determine, ‘Did something short out or what happened there?’ that would have caused maybe some smoke or some sparks.”
The activity happened in Unit 2, the same reactor taken out of service March 31 to “replace a valve on the control rod drive system,” according to a statement from Exelon. The valve replacement could not occur while the unit was operating.
The April 2 incident occurred as Unit 2 was in the process of restarting after the shutdown.
Stoermer said they would assess Unit 2 before it restarts. He said representatives from the NRC would investigate the April 2 incident.
“The NRC’s primary concern right now is to make sure the public is protected and that the plant operator is taking swift and appropriate action to continue to maintain plant safety,” said NRC spokesperson Viktoria Mitlyng. “Once the situation is resolved, the NRC will fully inspect the cause of and contributing factors to the event.”
“We train with these guys, we know this plant, so it all went very well today,” Chief Smalley said.
“There is no impact to public health or safety or to plant personnel,” Stoermer said. Unit 1 remained at full power.
Exelon operators ended their “alert” status for Unit 2 at 9:32 p.m. April 2. Stoermer said the smoke at Unit 2 was the result of a pipe that released water onto an electrical system which caused an electrical fault.