December 27, 2014

Small water leak leads to nuclear plant’s shutdown

V.C. Summer Nuclear Station (Courtesy: SCE&G)

V.C. Summer Nuclear Station (Courtesy: SCE&G)

A nuclear plant that operates northwest of Columbia is currently shut down as repair crews fix a water leak inside the reactor building.

South Carolina Electric & Gas closed down the only reactor at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville on Sunday after learning that water which is used to cool the reactor was leaking from a release valve.

“We were not required to take the plant offline,” the utility’s nuclear spokeswoman Rhonda O’Banion said. “But our management made the very conservative safety-conscious decision proactively to shut down the plant so that we could do the inspections and the replacement of the valve.”

A spokesman with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said SCE&G notified the agency of the leak, but the utility was not required to shut down the reactor to fix the problem. s cooling system. The system uses water to keep the reactor from overheating and potentially melting down.

O’Banion said it was a small leak, with contaminated water coming out at a rate of five gallons per minute. She said the water stayed inside the reactor’s containment building.

“At no time was there any situation that would have affected the public’s health or safety,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. She added that SCE&G officials hope to be running again within two weeks.

The State newspaper in Columbia first reported the shutdown on Tuesday.