Generating Station has Shutdownby Staff
Tri-City Herald, November 1, 2006
The Columbia Generating Station finished a record run of 486 days, generating more than $486 million worth of power before shutting down early Tuesday.
The nuclear power plant automatically shut down at 4:45 a.m. when monitoring equipment suggested a problem existed with systems that control the flow of steam to the plant's main turbine. The plant uses nuclear reactions to create steam to spin turbines that drive the plant's 1,250-megawatt generator.
The new operating record is 24 percent longer than the previous record of 393 days of operation ending in July 2004. In recent years, the Columbia Generating System has been emphasizing worker training and performance, said spokesman Brad Peck. It also has worked on a backlog of maintenance projects that were not related to safety, he said.
Both may have contributed to the record run, he said. Energy Northwest, which owns the plant, expects it to be off-line for a matter of days. The reason why the safety system triggered the shut down was not known Tuesday afternoon, but the plant has experienced past difficulties with the digital system that controls the steam flow to the turbine.
As long as the system is shut down to investigate and repair the cause of Tuesday's problem, workers will make other repairs. That includes preventive maintenance on an emergency high-pressure core spray service water pump.
Because the plant generates power worth about $1 million each day, Energy Northwest will keep the shut down as brief as possible.
When the plant starts up, the next run will not set another record. The plant is planned to operate until about May, when a shutdown for refueling is planned. Refueling is done every two years and requires the plant to be down for about a month.
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