Oyster Creek plant reports water leak
No environmental effects, officials say


January 12, 2008

The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey reduced power to 67 percent Friday after a water pipe leaked, but the power reduction had no environmental impact, according to plant and state officials.

"There's been no impact to the fish" as a result of the power decrease, said Darlene Yuhas, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman.

Last month, an unplanned Oyster Creek shutdown suddenly stopped the flow of warm water from the plant into its discharge canal, killing 5,304 fish — virtually all bluefish.

The service water pipe leak is the latest issue the plant has faced recently. It reduced power to 83 percent last month to deal with a small leak in a condenser and, about two weeks later, reduced power to 92 percent because of vibrating turbine control valves.

The water pipe began leaking near the plant's water intake structure at about 3 a.m. Friday, said Beth Rapczynski, Oyster Creek spokeswoman.

Plant officials reduced power in "a very slow manner in order to mitigate any environmental effects," she said.

The service water system draws water from Oyster Creek's canal, "circulates it through parts of the plant to cool down certain systems, then deposits it back in the canal," according to an e-mail from Neil A. Sheehan, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman. "The water does not come into contact with any radioactivity."

As of late Friday afternoon, the pipe leak was estimated at about 500 gallons a minute out of a flow of approximately 4,000 gallons a minute, according to Rapczynski.

Plant officials were investigating why the pipe began leaking and "we are looking at ways that we can repair this on line," she said.

They were looking to begin making repairs over the weekend, she said.

Plant operators "have not ruled out shutting down to effect repairs," according to Sheehan's e-mail.

Planned shutdowns are not allowed this time of year under Oyster Creek's DEP water intake and discharge permit, according to Yuhas.

After the plant restarted following last month's unplanned shutdown, turbine control valves began vibrating and the plant had to keep power at 92 percent.

"We have not been able to repair those (valves) yet," Rapczynski said.

Source: Asbury Park Press