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Shearon Harris reactor coming back to life

Posted June 4, 2013
Updated June 7, 2013

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— The nuclear reactor at Shearon Harris was operating at about 7 percent power Friday morning, about a week after a quarter-inch flaw in a reactor sensor was repaired.

Duke Energy Progress had to take the plant in southwest Wake County offline on May 15 because of the flaw, which if left unchecked, could have led to a crack. No radioactive material leaked from the plant, and public health and safety was never in danger, company officials said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission cleared the utility Tuesday to power the reactor back up.

According to information Duke filed with the NRC, ultrasonic tests of the reactor were taken a year ago when Shearon Harris was taken offline for refueling. A secondary review of those tests last month revealed the potential for corrosion on a temperature sensor near where cooling rods attach to the reactor head.

Unlike the non-emergency flaw that was a detected, a crack would be a much more serious concern. Over years, an unrepaired crack could widen and allow water that keeps the reactor cool to escape, putting the plant at risk of a meltdown and possible release of radiation.

The NRC dispatched two specialized inspectors from its Atlanta regional office to work with the plant’s resident inspectors in assessing the discovery of the flaw. They also examined previous ultrasonic test records and evaluated the company’s repair of the problem.

"We have verified that the condition has been corrected and the plant can be operated safely,” Victor McCree, NRC regional administrator, said in a statement. “Although there was no threat to people living near the plant, we felt it was important to conduct a follow-up meeting to answer questions residents might have.”

The agency has scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m. June 13 at the Holly Springs Cultural Center, when officials will discuss the preliminary findings of the inspection team. A final report won't be available until July.

Shearon Harris provides power to about 550,000 customers.

44 Comments

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  • 3779LRRP Jun 7, 2013

    whatelseisnew, I enjoy reading your comments as I think you're are right on the money. Glad they got the reactor back up and running.

  • SpaceRokr Jun 7, 2013

    Lesson Learned - Do the Secondary Review first.

  • JohnFLob Jun 7, 2013

    "New Hill, N.C. — The nuclear reactor at Shearon Harris was operating at about 7 percent power Friday morning, about a week after a quarter-inch flaw in a reactor sensor was repaired."

    So that is why it has been raining so hard. We did not these problems with tropical storms while the plant was shutdown.

    /sarc

  • Capt Mercury Jun 7, 2013

    So the reactor is still pretty much shut down. Because of the radioactive products of running the reactor at full power before the incident, 7% of rated power is about as low as these reactors can go. You cannot shut them down completely once they have been running. That's the dirty little secret the nuclear power crowd doesn't want you to know. The 2011 accident in Japan made that painfully clear. I wonder what's the hold up on bringing this plant back up.

  • Knock Jun 7, 2013

    "radiation is energy, calling it radioactive material is misleading and doesn't tell us anything about whether or not radiation was released (ie "leaked")"

    Leaked radioactive material would give off radiation until cleaned up, which is the real danger. A long term exposure to low levels of radiation coming form leaked radioactive materials, like the plants that leaked in Japan...

    On a side note, way to pick the time of the eye of a tropical storm passing over as the time to bring the reactor back up? weird.

  • blahz Jun 7, 2013

    "No radioactive material leaked from the plant, and public health and safety was never in danger, company officials said."

    radiation is energy, calling it radioactive material is misleading and doesn't tell us anything about whether or not radiation was released (ie "leaked")

  • simplelogic Jun 7, 2013

    "it's a stupid metaphor"

    Nope, it's a perfectly apt metaphor.

  • blahz Jun 7, 2013

    it's a stupid metaphor

    Lightfoot3

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 7, 2013

    "I just bought stock in Duck Tape..." - Sarge


    Don't forget Bubble Yum! Bubblegum to fill the crack, and duct tape to seal it all up. :)

  • Sarge Jun 7, 2013

    I just bought stock in Duck Tape...

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