Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Top News

Beaver Valley Nuclear reactor shutdown in zero degrees

See also

When the polar vortex's ultra-cold air moved into Pennsylvania Monday afternoon and plummeted to zero degrees, one of two nuclear reactors shut down at FirstEnergy Corp.'s Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport and remains shut down.

Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station is approximately 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

"There are many potential reasons this could happen and the cold weather is one of them," FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said. "But there are hundreds of other causes we're considering."

Western Pennsylvania temperatures were in the mid-20s Monday and then dipped after noon.

Winter Storm Ion hit Pittsburgh bringing record low temperatures since Monday. It was minus-7 degrees there late Monday night, a record low for that date. It continued falling to minus-9 on Tuesday, another record.

The previous record low for Jan. 7 was minus-5, in 1884 and the all-time low of 22 degrees below zero was on Jan. 19, 1994.

The reactor shut down around 5 p.m. Monday when temperatures fell to about zero, according to the National Weather Service.

“It's too early to determine if the weather contributed to the transformer problem," Young said. "The plant remains offline as the team assesses the issue.”

'Safe and reliable'

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesman Neil Sheehan called the shutdown "uneventful" and safe, but a fire suppression system was activated, dousing an electrical transformer with water, he said.

The transformer, that converts the reactor's power to electrical voltage, failed, so the reactor shut down and remains shut down.

This transformer is part of the generation part of the plant, not the nuclear portion, according to Young.

An investigation into the cause continues. The NRC's inspector at the plant is overseeing the FirstEnergy investigation, repairs, and the reactor's eventual return to service.

Sheehan said it could take several days, if the transformer needs replacing.

A spare transformer is on site in case a replacement is required, Young said, adding that replacement of the transformer would require a relatively short outage.

The company policy is to not disclose when the unit is expected to be back online due to competitive reasons.

The nuclear station shut down on Sept. 30 went off line for refueling and maintenance and did not go back online until Nov. 4.

"During the outage, 60 of the plant’s 157 fuel assemblies were exchanged," Electric Light and Power reported. "Numerous inspections and preventative maintenance and improvement projects were completed to ensure continued safe and reliable operations, including replacement of the unit’s two low-pressure turbines.

"The new, approximately 153-ton turbine rotors feature an enhanced blade design that is expected to increase plant efficiency."

Last year, Beaver Valley's Nuclear Station's on-site inspectors reported that the plant's security forces failed at least a portion of a force-on-force mock paramilitary attack on the plant in April. That was appealed and the company escaped citation.

In 2007, radioactive groundwater was detected at Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station.

Sources: Elwood City Ledger, Electric Light and Power

Advertisement

News

  •  Day 17
    Israel continues their ravaging bombardment on Gaza as the conflict wages on
    Video
    Video
  • MH17 victims arrive home
    40 bodies of the MH17 plane crash return to a somber homecoming in Holland
    Top News
  • Military advisers to Ukraine
    President Obama announces the deployment of military advisers to Ukraine
    Politics
  • Bubonic plague in China
    A bubonic plague outbreak in Yumen prompts China to quarantine the city
    World News
  • Air Algierie disappearance
    A flight headed from Burkina Faso to Algeria disappears from radar over Mali
    Headlines
  • Windows Phone training portal
    Microsoft launches Windows Phone training portal in attempt to woo consumers
    Tech

Related Videos:

  • Conflicting reports on location of missing Air Algerie jetliner
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518339565" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518339565&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Duff Watson SWA: Really Southwest, kicking off a passenger for a tetchy tweet?
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518337233" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518337233&autoStart=true"></div>
  • 232 teeth removed from teen's mouth in rare tumor condition
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518338813" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518338813&autoStart=true"></div>