PPL to shut down unit 1 for turbine inspection at Susquehanna nuclear plant

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Published: Oct 05 2012 10:03:42 AM EDT
BERWICK, Pa. -

PPL is gearing up to shut down the Unit 1 reactor at its Susquehanna nuclear plant in Luzerne Co. for additional turbine inspection.

According to the Allentown-based company, the power plant has reduced electricity output on both of its generating units to prepare for the inspection.

Turbine blade cracking was first identified in 2011 at the plant.

Depending on the outcome of this latest inspection, company officials will decide whether a similar inspection of Unit 2 is needed.

"Maintaining our margins of safety is the top priority," said Timothy S. Rausch, PPL Susquehanna senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. "Consistent with best practices in the nuclear power industry, we've been very systematic and deliberate in our approach to this issue, from conducting periodic inspections to replacing turbine blades when appropriate and installing diagnostic equipment to monitor for conditions that may lead to cracking."

Rausch said the company is in the final stages of verifying the causes of the cracking and is implementing short-term and long-term solutions for the issue.

One short-term solution is to lower the operating power level of both units at least until the Unit 1 inspection is done. This action reduces the potential for cracking to occur or worsen, PPL officials said.

The company said the plant will begin to implement turbine modifications starting in the spring of 2013 that should resolve the turbine blade cracking issue.

On Friday the company said the inspections could cost $15 million to $45 million.