REFILE-Alabama Nuclear plant releases carbon dioxide; no damage, injuries

Sat Aug 3, 2013 8:42pm EDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Aug 3 (Reuters) - A carbon dioxide spray used as a flame retardant was inadvertently released and an alert declared at a nuclear power plant in southern Alabama early on Saturday, plant owner Alabama Power Company said, adding there were no signs of fire or damage and no injuries or health threats.

The Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant operates a two-unit electric-generating plant near Dothan, Alabama, about 200 miles (320 km) south of Birmingham.

The gas was released during maintenance in Unit 1, but both units operated at full capacity during the incident, Alabama Power spokesman Ike Pigott said, with personnel safely isolating the carbon dioxide.

There was no damage to plant equipment, he said.

"This is all about precautionary equipment doing its job," Pigott said. The alert was declared at 5:20 a.m. local time and the matter resolved at 11:10 a.m.

An alert is a less serious classification of four emergency levels assigned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to its website.

Farley is owned by Alabama Power Company and operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Company, both subsidiaries of Southern Company.

It is one of three nuclear facilities in a system that provides roughly 20 percent of the electricity used in Alabama and Georgia.