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Steam Leak Shuts Down Perry Nuclear Plant Saturday

A radioactive steam leak in the plumbing of the reactor cooling system is causing a short-term shutdown of the Perry nuclear power plant east near Cleveland.  The problem started over the weekend.  Tim Rudell of member station WKSU in Kent reports.

Plant operators say no one was in danger, and there was no plant evacuation.  And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission classified the leak discovered late Saturday evening as non-emergency in nature.  Jennifer Young, of Perry owner First Energy:

JY:   We monitor conditions in the plant continually. When we identified that we may have a leakage -- which was controlled and captured in the plant, we're talking about a small steam leak -- we shut down so we could go make the repair.

The leak was spotted near a welded joint in pipes through which water circulates to carry heat away from the reactor.  It was fixed but the cause remains under investigation, and Young says the whole cooling system is being inspected while the plant is on controlled shut down, to make sure there are no other problems.  she does not yet know when regular operations will resume.

The Perry plant about 30 miles east of Cleveland on the Lake Erie shore went online for the first time in 1987.  it is licensed through early 2026, and owner First Energy has until September 2015 to apply for a 20-year extension