Fermi 2 nuclear plant down after valve issue found

Monroe News

Newport – A nuclear power plant in southeastern Michigan remains shut down after a valve issue was discovered following the malfunction of a transformer.

DTE Energy says Fermi 2 in Monroe County remains in a “safe, stable condition.” Spokesman John Austerberry said the utility completed its investigation into the transformer malfunction but stayed offline after an inspection found the valve issue.

Austerberry says the valve is on the reactor recirculation system.

The transformer problem appears to have been caused by water in a breaker associated with the transformer.

Fermi 2 supplies 20 percent of the electricity generated by DTE, but the utility can get power from its other generating stations and, if necessary, a regional energy market.

Last week DTE officials said the power plant wouldn't be inspected for damage from Thursday’s earthquake because monitors at the plant recorded no seismic activity.

The earthquake’s epicenter was reported near Amherstburg, Ont., which is about 12 miles northeast of the Fermi II reactor in Newport, Mich.

Metro Detroiters reported feeling the quake up to 40 miles away, but it was particularly noticeable in suburbs Downriver within 15 miles of the epicenter.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake at 3.6 on the Richter Scale, a recognized comparison used to scientifically measure the magnitude of earthquakes. A Canadian geological group upgraded it to 4.1.

Austerberry said Friday there is no cause for public concern about the plant. The plant has been inoperative since April 14 due to a separate malfunction.

The 40-foot tall boiling water reactor typically produces 1,200 megawatts of electricity which is channeled into DTE’s power grid, producing enough power for one million homes and businesses, Austenberry said.

Austerberry said the April 14 shutdown was described as a “non-emergency” in filings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.