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Team to investigate causes of shutdowns at Browns Ferry

ATHENS (AP) — A team of inspectors will be sent by federal regulators to TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant next week to investigate the causes of five unplanned shutdowns of the Unit 1 reactor since it was restarted in May.

"It is a fact-finding mission, and this inspection hopes to pull together all of the information available on what TVA has done to determine the causes of the scrams, and what they've done to fix it," Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Ken Clark said.

TVA spent five years refurbishing Unit 1 at the North Alabama plant for a cost of $1.8 billion.

The reactor unit had been dormant since 1985 and was restarted on May 22.

Unit 1 was shut down manually two days later when a control system pipe burst, spilling 600 gallons of hydraulic fluid.

Since then, the reactor unit has had four other unplanned shutdowns, most recently on Oct. 12.

Clark said the NRC team of four investigators would carry out a "focused inspection," reviewing records, talking to plant personnel and physically inspecting some of the plant's operating areas.

NRC management will decide whether further action is appropriate based on the inspectors' report, Clark said.

"There's no perception at this point in time of any major safety problem, but any time a unit shuts down, it's a challenge to all of the systems," he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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