Exelon works on nozzle at NJ Oyster Creek reactor before restart

Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:36am EST

* Reactor shut for refueling Oct. 22
    * NRC says reactor safe, agency monitoring nozzle work
    * Exelon did not say when reactor would exit refuel

    Nov 27 (Reuters) - U.S. power company Exelon Corp is
fixing a nozzle in the reactor at the Oyster Creek nuclear power
plant in New Jersey before the unit can exit an ongoing
refueling outage.
    The company did not say when the unit would likely exit the
outage, which began on Oct. 22.
    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the
reactor was safe and noted it had a metallurgist at the site to
make sure the agency was satisfied with the nozzle work.
    Exelon said it found an "indication" on a nozzle at the
615-megawatt (MW) reactor as part of a dye inspection of the
reactor during the refueling outage.
    The NRC said the nozzle is used for the control rod drive
mechanism. Control rods are made of materials that absorb
neutrons and are used to control the power output or shut a
reactor.
    Exelon said it found only one indication.
    To fix the indication, which the NRC said was not a crack
but could grow into a crack if left unaddressed; Exelon was
grinding down the metal around the indication.
    To keep the metal in the ground area within engineering
standards for thickness, the company would weld an overlay on
top of the site.
    All refueling outages are busy, but this one was especially
active for Oyster Creek - the nation's oldest operating power
reactor.
    The 43-year old reactor declared an alert on Oct. 29 as
water rose in the plant's water intake structure due to the
rising tide, and wind and storm surge from Hurricane Sandy.
    The NRC said there were no immediate safety concerns and the
plant did not have to contend with a reactor shutdown as Sandy
passed through the area because it was already shut for the
refueling.
    The NRC however on Nov. 13 said it started a special
inspection to gain a better understanding of how the intake
water level information was monitored and communicated during
the Sandy event.

---------------------------------------------------------- 
PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE 
STATE:      New Jersey      
COUNTY:     Ocean      
TOWN:       Forked River about 60 miles (96 km) east of       
            Philadelphia      
OPERATOR:   Exelon Nuclear      
OWNER(S):   Exelon Nuclear      
CAPACITY:   615 MW      
UNIT(S):    General Electric boiling water reactor      
FUEL:       Nuclear      
DISPATCH:   Baseload      
      
TIMELINE:      
1965 -      Construction started      
1969 -      Plant enters service, making it the oldest      
            operating nuclear plant in the United States      
1999 -      GPU Inc agreed to sell reactor to AmerGen for $10 
            million 
2003 -      Exelon bought AmerGen in 2003 
2005 -      Exelon applied with the NRC to extend the         
            operating license before the license was to      
            expire in 2009      
2009 -      NRC renewed the reactor's original 40-year       
            operating license for another 20 years 
2010 -      Exelon agreed with New Jersey to shut reactor 
            in 2019 to avoid building cooling towers 
2019 -      Oyster Creek reactor to shut            
2029 -      Operating license expires
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