For the second time in a week operators at the Oyster Creek Generating Station shut down the plant this time it was because of problem with the facility’s condenser, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said.
Plant operators manually scrammed the plant Friday at 3:12 a.m. after they discovered a reduction in vacuum conditions inside the condenser, said NRC spokesman Neil A. Sheehan.
“There were no complications during the shutdown and the NRC has not identified any immediate safety concerns,” he said. Oyster Creek is in Lacey Township in Ocean County, NJ.
The condenser – which cools down and condenses steam produced by the reactor after it has passed through the turbine – operates in a vacuum condition to maximize efficiency, Sheehan said.
It was the second time in a week the 45-year-old plant underwent a shut down.
Oyster Creek operators took the plant off line on July 7, due to “degradation” of five solenoid electromatic relief valves used in the plant’s cooling system.
Operators were attempting to start the plant up again early Friday morning and had reached 55 percent of power when they found the problems with the condenser, Sheehan said.
“However, it appears the shutdown will change the plant’s Performance Indicator for Unplanned Scrams per 7,000 Hours of Operation from ‘Green’ to ‘White and result in additional NRC oversight,” he said.
Exelon spokesman Suzanne D’Ambrosio said plant operators and technicians closely monitor pressures, temperatures and plant equipment for safe, reliable operation.
“It is crucial that during start up, every system operates flawlessly,” she said. “If anything is not as expected, operators stop the start-up process and address the issue. This comprehensive process and attention to detail has helped Oyster Creek reach industry leading levels of reliability.”
Oyster Creek is the oldest nuclear plant in the United States. It went online on Dec. 23, 1969.