Federal Regulators Say Plant Is Safe
The Bay City nuclear reactor damaged by a fire in January is now back up and running. This week, the South Texas Project "STP 2" reactor returned to 100% power, after getting a clean bill of health from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "Following NRC's thorough review of their corrective actions and oversight of maintenance that's been performed over the past four months, the NRC has deemed them safe to restart," says NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding. The January fire happened in a transformer outside the reactor and was put out in about 10 minutes. No injuries were reported.
Uselding tells KTRH that while the specific cause of the fire has not been determined, it did not threaten any sensitive areas of the reactor. "This incident occurred on the secondary side of the plant, so the event did not pose a risk to the public or the environment and there was no radiation release," she says. STP officials say the damage occurred to the reactor's turbine blades and bearings because they were abruptly stopped during the fire. Since then, operators have been doing repairs to the reactor under the watchful eye of the NRC. "They did daily monitoring of the maintenance that's been going on" as part of the overall NRC review, says Uselding.
This is the second prolonged shutdown of the STP 2 in less than two years. Back in November 2011, the reactor shut down for five months after a generator malfunction caused it to lose power. That issue was not related to the January fire, according to the NRC. In fact, both of the Bay City reactors have passed muster with regulators. "Just this year the NRC issued its annual assessment letter," says Uselding. "And in that, the NRC determined that South Texas Project Units 1 and 2 performed in a manner that preserved public health and safety."
Check out the NRC's Licensing Info for the South Texas Project Units 1 and 2.