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Safety system fails at restarted Ferry Unit 1

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

A coolant pump failed during tests of Browns Ferry Unit 1 on Monday, forcing the Tennessee Valley Authority to halt ascension power tests aimed at hooking the restarted plant to the electric grid.

This is the second snafu TVA has reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since TVA achieved a self-sustaining chain reaction in the reactor May 22.

On May 24, a leak of non-radioactive hydraulic fluid forced TVA to shut down the reactor for repairs. It was restarted at low power Saturday.

The coolant pump problem, detected at 1 a.m. Monday, did not require a shutdown. The reactor remains at 9 percent power.

TVA has delayed planned power increases, part of the testing process, until it solves the problem.

TVA notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the incident at 7:48 a.m. Monday.

The problem part was the high-pressure coolant injection pump.

During the power ascension program, the pump failed to reach the required pressure, said Browns Ferry spokesman Craig Beasley,.

"We stopped right there and declared it inoperable," Beasley said Tuesday. "We're continuing maintenance on the system now."

The faulty system is designed to put water into the reactor in the event of an accident that causes a loss of coolant.

Without coolant, the reactor could melt down, possibly exploding and releasing radioactive particles.

According to the report filed with the NRC, "Initial investigation reveals a potential problem with the test equipment."

TVA completed Unit 1 in 1974. It shut it down for a year in 1975 after a fire damaged it.

It shut all three units down in 1985 due to safety and management problems.

TVA brought Units 2 and 3 online in the 1990s.

In 2002, TVA began a $1.8 billion makeover of Unit 1. Once at full power, Unit 1 will generate enough power for 650,000 homes.

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