Nuclear mattersNRC investigates crack at Crystal River nuclear plant

Published 16 October 2009

The Crystal River containment structure is about 42 inches thick, contains steel support tendons, and is lined with steel plates; workers found a crack in the concrete about nine inches from the outer surface

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it was investigating a crack discovered in the concrete of the containment building of the Crystal River nuclear power plant, located 80 miles north of Tampa, Florida and owned by Progress Energy.

Ocala.com reports that the plant had shut down for a planned refueling and to replace steam generators inside the structure. according to a NRC press release.

To move the large steam generators, workers began removing concrete from the facility to create the necessary opening. During that work, a crack in the concrete was found in that area.

The Crystal River containment structure is about 42 inches thick, contains steel support tendons, and is lined with steel plates. The crack was found about nine inches from the outer surface of the concrete.

The inspection team will be made up of NRC personnel from its Atlanta office, those already working out of the Crystal River Plant and from NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. It is also likely the NRC will contract one or more independent experts to assist in the inspection, the press release said.

The discovery of this crack in the concrete does not appear to represent a major reduction in safety, and there are no immediate concerns because the plant is shut down,” said NRC Region II administrator Luis Reyes. “However, we want to make sure we have the right inspection resources to fully understand any safety implications before the plant restarts.”

Progress Energy is also performing an analysis of the concrete and overall containment to determine if there are safety implications and what may need to be before the plant restarts, according to the press release.

The NRC’s inspection is expected to take several weeks.

When the inspection is finished, the inspectors will meet in a public setting near the plant to discuss their preliminary findings. The team will also issue a written report, available to the public, several weeks after the completion of the inspection, according to the press release. 

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