UPDATE 1-Exelon completes nozzle work at NJ Oyster Creek reactor
* Reactor shut for refuelling Oct. 22 * Oyster Creek reports new pinhole leak * NRC monitoring company response to new leak * Exelon did not say when reactor would exit refuel By Scott DiSavino Nov 27 (Reuters) - U.S. power company Exelon Corp completed repairs on a reactor vessel nozzle at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey, federal nuclear regulators said Tuesday. "The company's weld overlay repairs to a reactor vessel nozzle found recently to have two "indications" (flaws or defects) are now completed," Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said in an email. "Our inspectors will review the final ultrasonic testing data to ensure we are satisfied with the repair work," he said. On Monday, Exelon said the 615-megawatt (MW) plant was in a safe shutdown mode and it would fix the nozzle before the reactor could exit a refuelling outage. The company however did not say when the 43-year old unit - the oldest operating reactor in the United States - would exit the outage, which began on Oct. 22. Separately, Exelon told the NRC in an event report early Tuesday it found a pinhole leak of about 2 to 3 drops per minute during testing of the reactor head spray line. The leak is through an earlier weld. The NRC said the line was part of a reactor vessel head cooling system, which is only used when the plant is shutting down. Its purpose is to assist in reactor vessel head cooling during shutdown. The company said it was investigating the cause of the leak and developing a plan to fix the problem. The NRC said its specialists will engage Exelon on the leak and review the company's investigation into the flaw and its repair plan. Earlier, the NRC said it had a metallurgist at Oyster Creek to make sure the agency was satisfied with the nozzle overlay work. Exelon said the indication in the nozzle was found during a dye inspection of the reactor. 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. To fix the indication, which the NRC said was not a crack but could grow into a crack if left unaddressed; Exelon ground down the metal around the indication and welded a metal overlay on top of the site to keep it within engineering standards for thickness. SANDY ALERT All refuelling outages are busy, but this one was especially active for Oyster Creek. The plant 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 safety concerns because the plant did not have to contend with a reactor shutdown since Sandy passed through the area when the unit was already shut for refuelling. 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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