Nuclear, O&M, Waste Management & Decommissioning

Feds inspecting Fermi nuclear plant for degraded paint near containment vessel

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it has launched a special inspection at the Enrico Fermi power plant in southeastern Michigan.

NRC is examining if degraded point inside a portion of reactor containment could impact safety systems in the event of an accident. The federal inspectors noted paint degradation inside the torus, a donut-shaped component of the reactor containment located below the reactor vessel, according to the NRC announcement.

Filled with water, the torus is designed to absorb energy from the reactor or supply water to safety systems during an accident. Loose paint chips from the torus could potentially impede the flow of water to safety-related equipment, according to the release.

The NRC’s new five-person inspection team will focus on establishing a sequence of events related to the degraded paint in the torus, reviewing maintenance practices and assessing the overall response since discovery of the situation.

Detroit-based DTE Energy is the sole owner of the Fermi plant, which is located along the shore of Lake Erie in Frenchtown Charter Township and 25 miles from Toledo, Ohio. Its two units generate more than 1,100 MW at capacity.

NRC inspectors will release their preliminary findings in a public report approximately 45 days after the inspection is completed.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International happening Nov. 19-21 in New Orleans. He can reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).