Defective Equipment Forces Plant Shutdown

PERRY, Ohio (AP) - The Perry nuclear power plant has been shut down since Sunday because of defective equipment, The Plain Dealer reported Tuesday.

It's the second unscheduled shutdown in three months at the plant located 35 miles northeast of Cleveland.

A system sent a false alarm of damage in the turbine, but the turbine was not affected, said Todd Schneider, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp., which owns the plant.

The false signal occurred during a weekly test of the device, located in a non-radioactive area of the facility. Public health and the environment were not at risk, Schneider said.

It will take a week to repair.

FirstEnergy Corp. is also repairing the disabled Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo.

During a maintenance shutdown, investigators in March found that boric acid had nearly eaten through a 6-inch steel cap on Davis-Besse's reactor vessel. The plant has been closed since then.

In June, a short circuit in a generator at Perry closed the plant for seven days, Schneider said.

Also during the weekend, FirstEnergy reduced power to 68 percent at Unit 2 of its Beaver Valley nuclear plant, just over the Ohio border in Shippingport, Pa., to repair a water circulating system.

To make up the lost nuclear power, Schneider said, FirstEnergy will rely on power from its coal plants and purchase electricity from other companies.

Because energy demand is low at this time of year, FirstEnergy will not have to ask any of its large customers to cut back on energy consumption, Schneider said.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Victoria Mitlyng said the problem at Perry was not considered an emergency. She said the NRC will oversee the Perry repairs but does not have to approve them before the company restarts the plant.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)