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The Hope Creek nuclear reactor in Lower Alloways Creek Township, NJ, returned to service after shutting down for repairs to a key safety relief valve, officials said.

The plant began sending out electricity over the regional power grid at 12:26 a.m. Thursday, said Joe Delmar, spokesman for the plant’s operator, PSEG Nuclear.

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“The maintenance outage was well executed and we were able to make the repairs we needed to ensure the continued safe operation of Hope Creek,” Delmar said.

The reactor went offline Friday evening for the work after officials found a valve was not operating as designed.

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The relief valve’s function is to protect the reactor from overpressure in the event of a trip — a sudden shutdown. It would release steam to relieve pressure within the reactor. In the plant there are 14 of these valves.

While the plant was offline, workers were able to perform maintenance on the circulating water system.

Hope Creek is on schedule for a refueling outage in the spring, but officials decided to shut down the plant now to replace the valve.

Hope Creek is one of three reactors operated by PSEG Nuclear at its Artificial Island generating complex.

The other two reactors at the Island — Salem 1 and Salem 2 — were operating at full power Thursday, Delmar said.

The three plants comprise the second largest commercial nuclear generating complex in the United States.

When all three plants are at full power, they produce enough electricity for three million homes.

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