Fire puts Shearon Harris on alert; no materials leaked
Posted January 18, 2014
Updated January 19, 2014
New Hill, N.C. — Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant was put on alert Saturday morning after a fire in plant electrical equipment, officials said.
Smoke was detected at about 10:15 a.m., and operators safely shut down the plant before on-site fire crews responded. No flames were detected.
According to Duke Energy spokesperson, Jeff Brooks, the fire was caused by a transformer that overheated.
No radioactive materials were released, and the plant was in stable condition Saturday afternoon, officials said. The alert ended at 3:51 p.m.
"This morning Duke Energy notified the emergency management agencies for the state and four counties within close proximity to the Harris nuclear plant of an equipment malfunction," state Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry said in a statement. "It is important to know that there is no risk to public health or safety, nor is any expected."
Employees at the New Hill nuclear plant are staffing emergency response facilities, and officials said they are coordinating with federal, state and local officials to resolve the situation and protect the public.
An alert is the second of four emergency classifications, used to describe conditions that require emergency response agencies to be in a heightened state of readiness but pose no threat to public safety.
"While the situation never posed a threat to public safety, it has provided our emergency response team with a valuable opportunity to test and coordinate our plans and procedures for a real event," Perry said. "The swift and coordinated response among all agencies involved demonstrates that North Carolina has a seasoned emergency management team that stands ready to protect the public."
"We expect to conduct an investigation into the cause of this incident and once any repairs are made that are necessary, we will return the plant to service," said Brooks.
The last time Shearon Harris was taken off line was in November when an ultrasound revealed a flaw at Harris' nuclear reactor.
Shearon Harris opened in 1987 and provides power to about 550,000 customers.