Nuclear Reactor Offline After Valve Leaks Water

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Power lines carrying electricity from the VC Summer Nuclear site are not charged after SCE&G made an unplanned decision to shut down the reactor last Sunday.

"One of our relief valves was not operating properly," said SCE&G spokeswoman Rhonda O'Banion.

Right now, two new nuclear reactors are under construction at the site.

The older unit, put online in the 1980's, could be down for as long as 14 days.

"It's radioactive water that's passed one way or another through the actual reactor," said nuclear watchdog Tom Clements. "To their credit, SCE&G took the right action of shutting the reactor down after they had determined where the leak was coming from. The next step is replacing the valve."

The shutdown was voluntary because the amount of water leaking was less than a shutdown standard set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"This was considered relatively routine maintenance work," O'Banion said. "Whenever we do work whether it's at the nuclear plant, coal plant, natural gas plant, we don't necessary notify the public."

SCE&G did notify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who has workers on site.

"It was within the regulatory limits and operating limits of the reactor," said Travis Knight, PhD, who runs the nuclear program at the University of South Carolina.

Knight says containment areas likely kept workers safe and nuclear material from leaking into the ground.

"It's designed for leaks and breaks much more severe that what we're talking about in this situation," he said.


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