NC nuclear plant shut down after crack discovered

May. 16, 2013 @ 01:59 PM

Operators have shut down a North Carolina nuclear plant after finding tiny marks of corrosion and cracking that need repair. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the health and safety of employees or the public are not affected.

NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said Thursday the quarter-inch flaw found at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in southern Wake County did not penetrate the retaining wall and there is no evidence of radiation leakage. The NRC said operators are shutting down the 25-year-old reactor to make repairs.

Lee County Emergency Service Director Shane Seagroves said he was told the plant may be back online by the first of June.

"There is no danger to the employees or the public," he said.

The Lee County Emergency Management Department was notified of the crack last night and the county is not under any alert or alarm.

During last year's scheduled outage, inspectors found some minor flaws that were repaired, Seagroves said. In preparation for a scheduled outage this November, an inspection was conducted and a quarter-inch crack was found to be addressed. 

Spokesmen for Charlotte-based Duke Energy did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The company last year bought Raleigh-based Progress Energy, which built the nuclear plant.

Hannah said the problem was discovered after Duke Energy workers looked again at ultrasound tests performed last spring.