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Beaver Valley nuclear power unit nears restart

| Monday, June 3, 2013, 10:29 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pete Sena, president and chief nuclear officer of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., shows how each tool used to work on a generator must be numbered, catalogued and tethered before it can be used on Monday, June 3, 2013, in the turbine and generator are of Unit 2 at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The operations room of Unit 2 at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport on Monday, June 3, 2013.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
David Gibson (left) assistant operations manager for Unit 1 takes a call as Jay Lutz, shift manager for Unit 2, looks on on Monday, June 3, 2013, in the operations room at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Sean Padcell, (left) Unit 2 supervisor and Eric Glenz, reactor operator, work in the operations room of Unit 2 on Monday, June 3, 2013, at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Chief nuclear officer Pete Sena walks past the high pressure rotor housing inside Unit 2 on Monday, June 3, 2013, at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
One of the cooling towers at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport.

The Beaver Valley nuclear power station is close to restarting a unit that's been shut down since last week, with workers on Monday putting the lid back on its generator, company officials said.

The company found slackened wires causing unusual vibrations in the second of the Shippingport site's two units, said Eric A. Larson, a vice president who oversees the site for FirstEnergy Corp. Sensors caught the problem before it caused any damage, and workers were able to fix the wires within about 48 hours during the weeklong shutdown, said Peter P. Sena III, president and chief nuclear officer at the company's nuclear unit.

“It's a very quick response,” Larson said. “It's quick, but the quality is extremely quick, too.”

The company leaders gave an hourlong tour of the site on Monday to the Tribune-Review in an effort to increase transparency for a plant under increased federal scrutiny. In addition to the shutdown, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been stepping up oversight since the company reported an unnamed security problem in August.

It's been resolved and the 1,800-megawatt plant is in great shape, said Sena, who works at the company's Akron, Ohio, headquarters to oversee all three of its nuclear power plants. That includes Perry Nuclear Power Plant outside Cleveland, which also came under federal scrutiny when workers found two goldfish in a pitcher in a secure area of the plant about a month ago.

Sena called it the result of unprofessional behavior and vowed to find the people responsible. The company has been investigating and plans to release more information about the incident in the coming weeks, he said.

“It was personal against me,” Sena said. “It was personal against FirstEnergy. It was personal against the workers of our company. It was personal against the entire nuclear power industry.”

Officials have declined to say how much the work at Beaver Valley cost or when exactly it will be finished. They did say that all that's left is to finish reattaching the lid on the inside of the generator and then a second lid on the outside. Working with a contractor, Siemens, and several local unions, the company employed about 30 workers a shift, in two shifts around the clock, to make the repairs, Larson said.

Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com.

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