Progress Energy to restart damaged nuclear plant

From staff reportsJune 27, 2011 

Progress Energy said today it will it attempt to salvage its damaged Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Florida and have the facility back in operation in 2014.

Progress officials made the decision to rebuild the Crystal River plant after a lengthy engineering review that included, as one of the company's options, closing the 34-year-old plant permanently.

If the Crystal River plant is returned back to operation on schedule, it will have been out of commission for about five years, becoming one of the longest unplanned shutdowns in U.S. nuclear history.

The planned repairs will cost Progress between $900 million and $1.3 billion, a cost the company says is justifiable because nuclear power saves about $300 million in fuel costs over other alternatives in Florida.

Progress plans holding a news conference on its plans tomorrow morning and has scheduled a detailed presentation in July before the Florida Public Service Commission, which will be asked to approve passing on the repair costs to Progress's 1.6 million Florida consumers in rate increases.

The Crystal River plant was taken offline in 2009 for scheduled maintenance, the replacement of steam generators, which required cutting an opening in the 42-inch thick wall of the containment building.

In late 2009, officials noticed a separation in the concrete at the periphery of the containment building that shields the nuclear reactor. In March, a second separation was discovered.

Progress considered 22 potential repair options. The procedure selected will entail removing and replacing concrete in the containment structure walls, essentially rebuilding sections of the containment barrier.

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