High Radiation Levels Trigger Emergency Alert at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant

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The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Station near Athens, Ala.: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority activated emergency prodecures Wednesday when high radiation levels in a main steamline were detected at Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in Athens, Alabama.

TVA detected the high radiation condition Wenesday around 3:35 p.m., central daylight time, according to an enews alert. It appears the story was broken by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, formerly a New York Times regional newspaper.

“Browns Ferry Unit 3 reported that the high radiation conditions were due to resin intrusion from the condensate demineralizers into the reactor and hydrogen water chemistry was a potential contributor to the event,” the NRC said in its report of the incident. “The cause is still under investigation.”

The notice of an unusual event was cleared almost immediately, according to TVA spokesman Jim Hopson, who said the high radiation levels were quickly lowered to acceptable levels and there was “no risk” of radiation exposure or other safety problems to the public or plant workers.

TVA lowered the power in the Unit 3 reactor, which was reactivated after a fuel reloading two weeks ago, to about 92 percent power while workers checked for potential problems.

The notice of an unusual event is the lowest of the four emergency notices to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which regulates America’s commercial nuclear power plants.

The unit is one of three at Browns Ferry, TVA’s biggest and oldest nuclear plant located near Athens, Ala. Hopson said all three reactors are now operating at full power.

© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.