Leak Reported In Vt Yankee Safety System; Officials Say Repairs Made

Sep 19, 2013

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has experienced a steam leak in a key reactor safety system. But a plant spokesman said Thursday technicians have already fixed the problem.

Yankee reported the event to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the leak occurred in the “high pressure coolant injection system,” which is used to inject water inside the reactor vessel if it’s required to shut down suddenly.

“So it serves a very important safety function and they need to test it on a regular basis,” he said. “They did identify a small steam leak involving a governor valve.”

Sheehan said that because the high pressure system is important for reactor safety Yankee has to fix the equipment within 14 days or face a mandatory shutdown.

Vermont Yankee spokesman Rob Williams said the repairs have already been made.

“This was during routine testing (Wednesday) on a pump in the reactor building,” he said. “And technicians noted that there was a small steam leak on a flange associated with that pump. So they took it out of service and reported it to the NRC. It’s since been repaired and retested and it’s back in service.”

Neil Sheehan of the NRC said the leak released a small amount of radioactivity. But he said the leak was contained within the reactor building and was not a threat to public safety. 

Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee, announced last month  it will close the reactor next year.