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It may take a few more months before the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant returns to full power because of substantial repairs needed on a reactor water pump, DTE Energy officials said.

The plant, located next to Lake Erie in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township, MI, has been running at reduced power since July and off line since Nov. 7.

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“It’s a matter of taking the generator apart, and that’s a very large, complex piece of machinery, determining the cause, repairing the problems and then getting it reassembled,” said DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo.

After disassembling portions of the generator, Cerullo said workers had to find the small area that was allowing hydrogen gas from one part of the cooling system to leak into part of the system that’s water-cooled, which decreases the system’s effectiveness.

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Although the plant is not operating, people in the surrounding area shouldn’t worry because the plant is in a safe, stable condition, Cerullo said.

“It’s important to remember that the generator is on the non-nuclear side of the plant, where the electricity is generated. It’s the same type of equipment that’s in any power plant, whether it’s powered by coal, natural gas or nuclear,” he said.

Cerullo said because of power market considerations, he can’t say when an exact restart date would be.

The plant was operating at 68 percent of power when it shut down in November. Operators reduced the power July after a month long shutdown because of damage to a feedwater pump, which is a separate issue.

The only previous incident at the 1,100 megawatt reactor occurred on June 6, 2010 after the plant took a hit from a small Tornado, which damaged the reactor’s building and automatically shut it down. Fermi has been running since Jan. 1988, after a construction period that spanned 20 years.

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