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Perry | Nuclear power plant shut down after contained leak

6:31 PM, Jun 17, 2013   |    comments
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PERRY -- There's no nuclear power being made in Perry while maintenance workers repair a contained leak of radioactive steam.

But there's no danger either.

"At no time was there any danger to the public, or even our workers at the plant. We did not have any leakage that exited the plant, it was all contained within a system that was there to capture water from the plant," said FirstEnergy Corporation spokesperson Jennifer Young.

A busted weld on a vent line at the Perry Plant meant some steam that should be part of the reactor's recirculation system was instead seeping into a sump system chamber used to capture excess steam.

The pump is working according to plan, said Young, but the steam amounts indicated the issue.

"When we saw the number of water going through the plant increase, we shut down the plant to proactively look for any leak," she said.

In one of a large number of parameters constantly monitored at the plant, Friday workers monitored 0.5 gallons per minute in the drywell sump system, where they'd expect to see 0.2 gallons per minute.

Like a sump pump in your home automatically gets rid of extra water in your basement, this system is built to handle radioactive steam. It's not a normal repair issue, but it's not an emergency, considered a proactive repair that prevents a greater issue down the road.

"The plant is fortified with many many different protective barriers, including the building this is in is a five-foot thick concrete structure. The steam was contained at all times," said Young.

FirstEnergy nuclear website

A Twitter scare shouted evacuation, but that's simply not the case. If it was, EMA officials say you'd be warned before news broke on Twitter.

Larry Greene, Director of Lake County's emergency management, says people who live within a ten-mile radius of the plant are considered within the Emergency Planning Zone, an area FEMA requires utilities like FirstEnergy to make plans for and distribute those plans every year.

Everyone in the zone, including parts of Ashtabula and Geauga counties, would be notified by sirens, and emergency alert broadcasts if an emergency ever warranted.

At least four times a year, agencies practice a drill emergency response, some practices are approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

While it's important to be alerted by a siren, the most important part of a response is being notified of how to take action and the implementation of a radiological plan.

Young says she calls Perry home and knows the area is safe for herself and her family.

"We couldn't be operating if we didn't keep safety first in everything that we do," said Young.

For now, the company won't say how long until repairs are finished, because it could impact the price of power - a third of the company's power produced here and at two other nuclear plants.

But at this point, the company won't have to buy replacement energy to demands.

To find out when it's up and running, you can check its website, or follow @Perry_Plant on Twitter.

WKYC-TV

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