PPL shuts Susquehanna nuclear unit due to oil leak

Operators at PPL Corp.‘s (NYSE: PPL) Susquehanna nuclear power plant disconnected on Nov. 19 from the regional power grid shortly after returning to service because of a hydraulic oil leak on a system that controls the flow of steam into the turbine.

Operators are manually shutting down the reactor and plant systems are responding as designed, PPL said in a Nov. 20 statement. Susquehanna employees are investigating the cause of the oil leak. The oil leak is not affecting employee or public safety and is contained within the Turbine Building. Unit 1 is operating safely at full power.

“Shutting down the reactor is the safest course of action until we can determine the reason for the oil leak and make the necessary repair,” said Timothy Rausch, PPL Susquehanna senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “All systems are functioning as expected to keep the unit in a safe condition.”

Unit 2 had just resumed generating electricity for the regional power grid on Nov. 19 after completing a turbine blade inspection and repairing a computer system that malfunctioned on Nov. 9, causing operators to shut down the reactor. The previously announced turbine inspection revealed signs of cracking on a small number of blades. Those blades have been replaced, PPL noted.

The computer system malfunction was caused by the failure of a processing unit, which workers replaced during the outage. PPL will replace the processing unit for a similar system on the Unit 1 reactor in the near future. That work will be done while the reactor is operating.

The after-tax financial impact of the most recent turbine inspections on both units, which includes reduced energy-sales margins and repair expenses, is expected to be about $25m, PPL said.

The Susquehanna plant, located in Luzerne County, Pa., about seven miles north of Berwick, is owned jointly by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc. and is operated by PPL Susquehanna.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.