an outage away from rating cut
By DAVID BENSON Staff Writer,
(Published: January 3, 2008)
the world of nuclear power, three strikes don't take a company out of the game.
a fourth strike in less than 12 months means federal umpires will take a much
closer look at how a nuclear facility is operating. And closer federal scrutiny
could hurt a company's bottom line, a federal spokesman said Wednesday.
Unit 1, a nuclear reactor owned by PSEG, shut down unexpectedly Friday after a
power transformer failed, which tripped two of the plant's four reactor coolant
was the third unplanned shutdown for the nuclear generating unit in less than a
year, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
the reactor has one more unplanned outage on or before March 31, 2008,"
Sheehan said, "it will result in Salem 1 crossing from 'green' to 'white'
in the performance indicator for unplanned scrams."
shift in colors means a degraded safety rating and more federal inspectors on
the floors of Salem Unit 1, Sheehan said. Those inspectors would keep a closer
eye on how the nuclear facility operates for the next 12 months.
want to maintain green performance indicators," Sheehan said. "Market
analysts are always looking for ways to judge planned performance for a company.
The Wall Street people keep close tabs on how these plants are performing."
performance of nuclear plants is posted daily on the NRC's Web site. Investors
refer to the federal Web site for a long-term look at companies, Sheehan said.
Unit 1 was shut down twice before during the past 12 months when river grass
clogged the rotating intake screens that protect the cooling system for the
reactor. This third unplanned shutdown means the plant must stay online through
the end of March to avoid any increase in federal oversight.
Cohen, a spokesman for Unplug Salem, said the faulty transformer that caused the
coolant pumps to trip is just part of an ongoing problem at the Salem
has had a history of not maintaining electrical system as well as they
could," Cohen said. "Nothing has changed."
while Cohen believes both of the Salem units in Lower Alloways Creek Township
should be shut down, he doesn't think increased NRC scrutiny will have much of
an effect at the plant.
fact that they might get more inspections doesn't really change anything,"
Cohen said. "It's just more paper to push around. Salem 1 and 2 are aging
nuclear plants that should be shut down when their 40 years are up."
Yuhas, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said
it was too early to speculate on whether the state would get involved.
do maintain an open dialogue with the NRC," Yuhas said. "Depending on
what course of action they might take, then we would make a decision as to what
our involvement might be."
Cannon, a spokesman for PSEG, said the NRC's assessment is correct.
is our third shutdown in a calendar year," Cannon said. "The last time
was in April."
heavy river grass that caused the last shutdown won't be a problem for the plant
during the winter months, but could be an issue before the three-month time
period set by the NRC is over.
grassing period," Cannon said, "is typically March 1 through April
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