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Malfunction prompts shutdown at nuclear plant in Berwick

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By The Citizens Voice, Wilkes-barre
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 4:16 p.m.

SALEM TWP. — One of the two nuclear reactors at PPL's Susquehanna plant near Berwick was shut down early Friday because a computer system that controls the reactor's water level was not functioning properly.

Operators and federal regulators are investigating the cause of the computer problems at Unit 2, according to a press release from the company, which said the reactor remained in “a safe condition.”

U.S. nuclear spokesman Neil Sheehan said operators manually shut down the reactor at 1:18 a.m. by inserting control rods after monitors showed lowered water levels in two systems: one that circulates water inside the reactor to maintain safe temperatures and one that channels water through the reactor to produce steam to drive turbines.

“There were no releases of radiation, no complications, no danger to plant workers or the public,” Sheehan said.

He said Unit 2 will remain offline until the cause of the computer malfunction is found and corrected.

The PPL press release said that while Unit 2 is shut down, employees will begin a previously announced inspection of turbine blades. Cracks in turbine blades in both units were discovered in 2011.

Unit 1 was shut down last month for a similar inspection. Sheehan said Unit 1 came back online last week after several blades were replaced.

The company says it plans to modify the turbines to resolve the cracking issues during refueling and maintenance outages scheduled for 2013.

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