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Cause of hole at nuclear plant discovered

Bob Bauder - FRIDAY MAY 1, 2009

http://www.timesonline.com/articles/2009/04/30/news/doc49f8f1cea420e920135112.txt

SHIPPINGPORT, PA - FirstEnergy Corp. believes it has determined what caused the hole discovered last week in the steel lining of a reactor containment building at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station.

The hole, measuring about 1 inch by 3/8 inch, in the Unit 1 reactor containment building was discovered Thursday during a routine inspection. The reactor had been shut down earlier last week as part of a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

The containment building is built of 4-foot-thick concrete walls with a 3/8-inch-thick steel liner underneath the concrete.

Company spokesman Todd Schneider said workers enlarged the hole and found a 2-by-4-inch board embedded in the concrete, touching the steel liner. FirstEnergy believes moisture from the board, which has been there since at least 1976 when the reactor first went online, caused the steel to corrode.

Schneider said no one knows exactly how the board ended up in the concrete.

The board has been removed, and the concrete has been replaced. Workers will weld a steel patch to cover the hole. Schneider said the area would be pressure-tested to ensure an airtight seal.

The repair also must pass Nuclear Regulatory Commission standards.

Pieces of the board and corroded liner have been sent for laboratory testing as part of an investigation into the cause, Schneider said.

He said the incident would not affect the continuing outage.

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