BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. — Energy officials and environmentalists are reacting to reports of a reactor coolant system leak at Progress Energy's Nuclear Plant in Brunswick County.
According to Progress Energy, early Wednesday morning the plant reported an unusual plant event to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Environmentalist Tom Clements with Friends of the Earth, tracks nuclear issues primarily in South Carolina and Georgia.
However, the unusual event report posted Wednesday morning plant grabbed his attention.
"The reason that is significant is because this type of reactor, a boiling water reactor, it goes directly through the core of the reactor, where the radioactive material is contained," said Clements.
Clements said he wants to know the source of the leak, if the water leaking is radioactive, and if this poses any threat to workers, the public, or the environment.
"The leakage rates according to the NRC website were up to ten gallons a minute or approaching 10 gallons a minute and when they shut the reactor down, they had gotten down to three gallons a minute but it's a significant leak," said Clements.
Progress Energy officials said an unusual event is the lowest emergency classification used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Officials said Unit 2 has been offline since Nov. 5 for scheduled maintenance and they noticed an issue when starting it back up Wednesday morning.
"We're bringing the unit to a safe, stable position so we can find the leak, address it, and work to bring the unit back up," said Progress Energy spokesperson Ryan Mosier.
Mosier said they believe radioactive water is leaking from the top of the vessel.
"The leak is contained within the containment structure and through the different vessel drain pumps and drain systems inside the reactor," said Mosier.
Mosier said at this point they are investigating the cause of the leak but said there are no threats to the environment or people. At this point, Clements said he just wants to make sure that they keep the public informed.
The NRC said their own onsite inspectors are looking into the problem and will decide what needs to be done.