Unit at nuclear plant shut down

February 4, 2010

Houston Chronicle

Unit 1 of the South Texas Project nuclear power plant remained off line Thursday as workers tried to determine why one of the 57 control rods used in the unit failed to operate properly.

The problem was discovered Wednesday afternoon as crews conducted a monthly control rod test and surveillance procedure, South Texas Project spokesman Buddy Eller said. He wouldn’t specify the exact nature of the problem but said another control rod had what appeared to be a similar problem last month during the same test.

Operators decided to shut down the unit Wednesday night to evaluate the problem, Eller said.

Unit 1 was last shut down in October 2009 for a routine refueling, when some of the spent uranium fuel rods are removed and replaced.

The reactor’s vessel head was replaced then as well, for the first time since the unit started up in 1988. Eller wouldn’t speculate as to whether the control rod problems were related to the new equipment.

The plant’s two reactors produce 2,700 megawatts of power, enough for about 2 million homes, the company estimates.


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