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PSEG begins COVID-era planned outage for Salem nuclear Unit 2 in NJ

New Jersey-based utility PSEG has taken its Salem nuclear Unit 2 into a planned refueling and maintenance outage.

Plant operators removed the unit from the regional power grid on Saturday. The multi-week refueling and maintenance outage will include thousands of inspections and maintenance activities.

Salem 2 is one of three nuclear units operated by PSEG in Salem County, New Jersey. Altogether they generated close to 40 percent of the state’s electricity and more than 90 percent of its carbon-free energy.

“Refueling and planned maintenance are an important part of the ongoing efficient operation of nuclear plants, including ours that supply the reliable, clean energy that New Jersey relies on,” said PSEG Nuclear President and Chief Nuclear Officer Eric Carr. “In these challenging times, the dependability of nuclear’s carbon-free electricity – to power our homes, hospitals and our lives – is critical.”

In addition, in an effort to minimize the length and number of on-site staff required for this outage, PSEG has evaluated the outage schedule and is focused on work necessary to ensure safe, reliable operations for the next operating cycle. Certain types of discretionary work that is normally spread over years and is not critical to ensuring safe, reliable operations is being postponed during this outage. In making these decisions, PSEG has thoroughly reviewed industry guidance and is confident the changes will not impact plant reliability.

PSEG announced that it is training and directing all employees to practice social distancing, reducing meeting sizes and using personal protective equipment when appropriate. The utility also is increasing its cleaning and sanitization protocol.

All workers entering the site will be scanned for temperature. Face coverings will be available for all employees and are required, PSEG says.

Close to 1,000 extra workers will be brought in to complete Salem Unit 2’s refueling and maintenance schedule which occurs approximately 18 months, looking over every part of the unit from vessel head to reactor coolant, piping, pumps, flywheels, steam generator, heat exchanger, support structure and beyond.

Salem Unit 2 is a pressurized water reactor built by Westinghouse. It became operational in 1981, four years after Unit 1.