February 5, 2008 / 6:24 PM / 11 years ago

NRC boosts oversight at PSEG N.J. Salem 1 reactor

NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday it will increase inspections and oversight at Public Service Enterprise Group Inc’s (PEG.N) 1,174-megawatt Unit 1 at the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey due to problems with the emergency diesel generators.

In a release, the NRC said it changed the plant’s performance assessment for the generators from “green” to “yellow.”

The NRC uses color-coded performance indicators and inspection findings to evaluate plant performance. The colors start with “green” and then increase to “white,” “yellow” or “red,” commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved.

With the change, the NRC said it would increase inspections and oversight at the unit until the company addresses the problem.

In the last 12 quarters, there were three power supply failures at Salem Unit 1. On Aug. 30, 2005, a generator failed to run, and on March 29, 2007, and Dec. 10, 2007, two generators failed to start.

Emergency diesel generators provide backup power in the event of an off-site power loss. Each reactor at Salem has three diesel generators.

The 3,403 MW Salem/Hope Creek station is located along the Delaware River in Salem about 40 miles south of Philadelphia. There are three reactors at the station, the 1,174 MW Salem 1, the 1,130 MW Salem 2 and the 1,061 MW Hope Creek, along with the 38 MW Salem 3 oil-fired turbine.

Salem 1 and 2 entered service in 1977 and 1981, and Hope Creek in 1986.

One MW powers about 800 homes in New Jersey.

Exelon Nuclear, a unit of Exelon Corp (EXC.N), has a contract to manage the station for PSEG.

However, since the merger of PSEG and Exelon failed in 2006, PSEG has been taking over more of the nuclear operations and plans to take back management of the reactors over the next few years.

PSEG owns all of Hope Creek and about 57 percent of Salem. Exelon owns the remaining 43 percent of Salem.

PSEG told the NRC it planned to file for a 20-year extension of the original 40-year operating licenses for Hope Creek and both Salem units in September 2009.

PSEG in August 2007 said it planned to spend $50 million between 2007 and 2011 to explore the possible construction of a new reactor at Hope Creek.

Exelon, of Chicago, owns and operates more than 38,000 MW of generating capacity, markets energy commodities, and transmits and distributes electricity (5.4 million) and natural gas (480,000) to customers in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

PSEG, of Newark, New Jersey, owns and operates more than 20,000 MW of generating capacity, markets energy commodities, and transmits and distributes electricity and natural gas to customers in North America and other parts of the world. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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