Update: Beaver Valley shutdown may have been weather-related

As I told you earlier today, Unit 1 at the Beaver Valley nuclear plant in Pennsylvania is currently offline following a main transformer trip. Beaver County’s TimesOnline added the following details:

FirstEnergy officials said they were investigating whether recent cold temperature had something to do with the unexpected shutdown, which occurred at just before 5 p.m. Monday.

“Our investigation into the unexpected shutdown will consider whether the cold weather had an impact, but there are many items that can cause a transformer issue such as what occurred at Beaver Valley Unit 1,” said FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young. “It’s too early to determine if the weather contributed to the transformer problem. The plant remains offline as the team assesses the issue.”

The article also suggested that the reactor may be down for some time, though they can’t say so lest another nuclear power company is listening:

It will remain offline until a team completes its investigation of the cause of the transformer issue and appropriate repairs are completed, Young said.

“There are a large number of conditions that can cause transformer issues such as that experienced at Beaver Valley Unit 1,” she said. “The team will consider a variety of factors during its intrusive diagnosis, including any potential impact of cold weather on the equipment. A spare transformer is on site at Beaver Valley in the event a replacement is required. Replacement of the transformer would require a relatively short outage.”

The company does not disclose how long the unit is expected to be back online due to competitive reasons.

The TimesOnline piece read as if FirstEnergy had issued a press release on the shutdown, so I went looking for it. I didn’t find today’s, but I did find one from yesterday, just before the reactor shut down:

FirstEnergy Utilities Prepare for Extreme Cold

AKRON, Ohio, Jan. 6, 2014 — FirstEnergy utilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia are prepared for the sustained sub-zero temperatures and wind chills impacting the company’s service territory this week.“FirstEnergy crews began focused cold weather inspections and assessments last week to confirm our equipment is in peak condition and minimize potential challenges the extreme weather may pose,” said Mark Julian, vice president of FirstEnergy utility operations.  “In addition, non-essential work on the transmission system has been postponed to ensure all equipment remains available through the next several days.”  

 FirstEnergy’s preparations have included verifying oil and pressure levels in breakers and transformers, ensuring proper operation of heaters on breakers and critical substation equipment, and confirming spare fuses and other replacement parts are on hand.

The Beaver Valley transformer went offline a couple of hours later.

Here’s a link to the TimesOnline article: http://www.timesonline.com/news/energy/beaver-valley-nuke-plant-unit-shut-down-unexpectedly/article_55608c79-3c9f-5a3a-80e7-171c73d8fc53.html

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About Robert Singleton

By day, I work for a call center. In my spare time, I try to save my hometown (and planet) from a nearly constant onslaught of greedheads, lunatics and land developers. I live in a fictional town called Austin, Texas, where I go to way too many meetings.
This entry was posted in Beaver Valley, Event Reports, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Plant shutdowns and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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