Nuclear plant inspected after malfunction

Calvert Cliffs incident Jan. 23 posed no danger to public safety, NRC says

February 19, 2004|By CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - Government inspectors went to the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant this week to examine a cooling system malfunction that caused the Unit 2 nuclear reactor to shut down briefly Jan. 23.

But plant and Calvert County officials said there was no cause for alarm in the shutdown and the inspection, which will last for a week, is routine.

"There was no threat to surrounding areas, and there were no public health and safety consequences," said Neil A. Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which dispatched inspectors to the Lusby plant Tuesday.

Elleen Kane, a spokeswoman for Constellation Energy Group, which operates Calvert Cliffs through its Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. subsidiary, said the public was "never in danger."

The reactor shut down automatically after a malfunction in the pump that supplies the water that helps cool the reactor and generates steam to drive the electricity-producing main turbine.

Kane said the culprit in the shutdown apparently was a loose fuse in the control cabinet for the steam-generator feed-water pump. While the reactor is designed to shut down in such circumstances, equipment issues last month slowed down the restart.

Built by BGE in the 1970s, Calvert Cliffs was licensed to operate for 40 years. But in 2000, it became the first nuclear power plant in the nation to be relicensed, winning extensions that will allow its two reactors to operate for an additional 20 years, until 2034 and 2036.

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