LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TOWNSHIP — The Salem 1 nuclear power plant was manually shut down Thursday night following an unidentified leak of slightly radioactive water inside the containment building, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a statement this morning.
The NRC said the spill was confined to the containment building and there was no threat to the public or workers.
The leak was recorded at 4 gallons per minute at one point, exceeding the operating requirement of 1 gallon per minute, and forcing the shutdown, according Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman. The federal agency oversees the operation of the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear plants.
The initial investigation determined the leak was from a pressurizer spray valve used to balance the coolant system. The same valve was replaced and its air operator was rebuilt during the last refueling outage in the spring.
Salem 1 was shut down at 7:29 p.m., the valve was closed and the leakage reduced as required, said Joe Delmar, a spokesman for PSEG Nuclear, which operates the plant. He added there was no release to the environment.
In a statement, Delmar said a repair plan was in progress, but could not provide a time frame for when the unit would return to service.
PSEG Nuclear also operates the neighboring Salem 2 and Hope Creek reactors, which are running at full power, he said.
Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are investigating increased radiological readings at a tank farm there.
Part of the massive site was shut down following the reading Wednesday night.
It happened around 9:30 p.m. while crews were transferring waste at a tank inside what’s known as the C-Farm, a 9-acre grouping of underground tanks that hold millions of gallons of radioactive sludge.
Operators noticed a big difference in their radiological readings and proceeded to evacuate the entire farm area. Gates were closed to most workers, and areas of Hanford were placed under a “take-cover” status. Special crews surveyed the areas outside of the C-Farm, then got closer to the location where work was being done.
Crews have since given the all-clear for most of the farm, but are working on narrowing down where the high reading came from.
Department of Energy spokeswoman Carrie Meyer says federal contractors and employees were well-prepared as they had just undergone an emergency drill late last week. She says no workers have been contaminated or injured.
Source: CDEAMS North American Monitoring