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Nuclear Power Plant again Shut Down

by Chris Mulick, Herald staff writer
Tri-City Herald, June 17, 2005

The nuclear power plant north of Richland shut itself down earlier this week just days after restarting from a successful refueling outage.

The 1,157-megawatt reactor went down Wednesday afternoon because of problems with a digital system that controls valves regulating steam flow from the reactor to the turbines that drive the generator. That system also controls pressure inside the reactor. It's the same system that forced a shutdown last summer.

Crews still were working to identify the precise cause of the failure Thursday afternoon, and the plant cannot be restarted until they do. That restart did not appear imminent.

"It's unclear how long the plant will be down," said Energy Northwest spokesman Brad Peck.

The unplanned outage marks a tough blow to Energy Northwest, which had been receiving kudos for its timely conclusion of a 35-day refueling outage last weekend. The Columbia Generating Station had only returned to full power Monday.

"We were feeling pretty confident," Peck said. "It's a complex machine. It's not uncommon to have issues crop up."

He said the plant would be restarted as soon as possible without compromising safety.

"The sooner the better," said Ed Mosey, a spokesman for the Bonneville Power Administration, which buys all of the plant's power. "It's a big machine, and things do go wrong."

The plant also had problems coming out of its most recent refueling outage in 2003 and wasn't running at full power for five weeks.

While it is down, Energy Northwest plans to tackle additional maintenance projects it otherwise would not have had the plant been running.

Chris Mulick
Nuclear Power Plant again Shut Down
Tri-City Herald, June 17, 2005

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