Weekend problem forces Brunswick 1 nuclear unit offline in North Carolina

Unit 1 of the Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) Brunswick nuclear plant in Southport, N.C., went offline unexpectedly Sunday Feb. 7 at 1:26 p.m., due to damage in an electrical panel the company said in a news release.

Duke initially declared an “alert” due to “an explosion/fire in the Balance of Plant 4 kV switchgear bus area,” according to an event report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Prior to the Alert declaration, the operators initiated a manual scram due to an unexpected power decrease from 88% to 40%, according to the report.

The alert was downgraded to an “unusual event” classification at 5:30 p.m. as plant operators realigned plant equipment, Duke said. An unusual event is the lowest of NRC’s four nuclear emergency classifications.

“The licensee has visually verified that there is no ongoing fire and is investigating the initial cause of the event,” according to the NRC report.

Operators safely shut down unit 1. Unit 2 continues to operate at 100% power. All appropriate federal, state and local officials were notified, and Brunswick plant emergency response facilities were staffed, Duke said.

Brunswick Unit 1 was still listed at zero generation by NRC early Feb. 8.

The unusual event was linked to a “loss of all offsite power to Emergency 4 kV buses E1 (E3) and E2 (E4) for greater than or equal to 15 minutes,” according to the NRC report.  The emergency declaration was terminated was lifted shortly after 6 p.m. because offsite power was restored.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.