Duke Oconee Unit 1 forced offline due to fire

The Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) Oconee 1 nuclear unit in South Carolina was forced offline during the weekend following a fire, according to a report filed March 7 with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The event occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on Sunday March 6.

“At 1512 EST, a fire/explosion occurred in the Unit 1 Main Transformer which resulted in a reactor trip,” according to the event report filed with the NRC. “At 1520 EST, the licensee declared a Notification of Unusual Event. Offsite assistance was requested. At 1633 EST, smoke and flame were no longer visible. Fire brigade personnel were applying additional foam to prevent a re-flash. No personnel injuries occurred.”

Three local fire departments assisted in putting out the blaze.

The fire damaged an overhead power line that supplies emergency power to all three units at Oconee. “Offsite power is still available to all units,” according to the report filed with NRC.

At 8:16 p.m. ET the “emergency declarations” were lifted. Oconee Unit 1 was still listed at zero power generation early March 7.

Units 2 and 3 continue to operate safely, Duke told GenerationHub. “We are conducting a thorough investigation of the cause of this fire. The safe, reliable operation of Oconee Nuclear Station is always our top priority – we take the reliability of all plant equipment seriously and will work to fully understand the events of Sunday,” the Duke spokesperson said.

Each of the pressurized water reactor (PWR) units has a summer operating capacity of roughly 850 MW. The Oconee plant, operated by Duke, is located near Seneca, S.C., about 30 miles west of Greenville.

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.