FORKED RIVER, NJ (August 29, 2009) - Operators at Oyster Creek Generating Station returned the unit to full power on Saturday, Aug. 29, after completing repairs on a non-safety related six-inch diameter pipe that penetrates the turbine building.
The station operated at reduced power Aug. 25-28, while environmental and engineering experts repaired a non-safety related six-inch aluminum pipe carrying water containing tritium that passes through a four-foot-thick steel-reinforced concrete wall. During the maintenance, technicians also fully inspected seven other aluminum pipes that penetrate the turbine building wall and found no other issues.
"We have successfully repaired the quarter-inch leak in the six-inch pipe and safely returned the unit to full power. Our analysis continues on the best environmental course of rerouting the pipes above ground, constructing a vault to contain the pipes or another engineered option," said Mike Massaro, Oyster Creek Site Vice President. "We will continue to keep our federal and state regulators and the Oyster Creek community informed as we continue this process."
Water samples taken daily from the plant's discharge canal continue to show no detectable levels of tritium. After station operators identified the leak inside the turbine building late Monday, technicians proactively began excavating the area outside the turbine building to check for water outside the building as part of the station's environmental monitoring program. Samples taken from the excavation returned elevated concentrations of tritium, indicating some of the water made its way into the soil immediately adjacent to the structure. Plant teams took immediate actions and stopped the leak Wednesday evening.
Oyster Creek has kept elected officials, as well as state and federal agencies, updated throughout this process. In addition, the plant will host a Community Information Night in October and invite the public to meet with our employees to discuss the station and its role in the community for the next two decades.
Since 2000, Exelon has invested more than $100 million in the Oyster Creek's systems, components and structures to establish the platform for 20 more years of safe and reliable operations for the Garden State.
Tritium is a weak, naturally occurring radiation emitter that is used commercially to make luminous dials and instruments, as a source of light for exit and safety signs, as a tracer for biochemical research and in ground water transport measurements, among other uses. It is produced in higher than natural concentrations in commercial nuclear reactors. A tritium fact sheet from the U.S. EPA can be downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/tritium.html
Oyster Creek is about 60 miles east of Philadelphia in Ocean County , New Jersey. The plant produces 636 net megawatts of electricity at full power, enough electricity to supply 600,000 typical homes, the equivalent to all homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined.