NJ--Reactors' Shutdown Is Sought...Coalition Says Salem Plant Unsafe

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Salem nuclear power plant is unsafe, says N.J. coalition

By JEFF MONTGOMERY Staff reporter 03/09/2000

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to hear appeals to shut down the Salem Nuclear Generating Station Tuesday, under a recently expanded petition program.

Unplug Salem, a southern New Jersey coalition formed to close the plant, sought the review after charging the Salem complex has weaknesses similar to those of the troubled nuclear power plant in Indian Point, N.Y.

A steam tube rupture at Indian Point on Feb. 15 released coolant and small amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere. The incident forced the plant to declare an alert, second lowest of the commission's four emergency stages.

The New Jersey group reported that Salem's steam tubing system has similarities to Indian Point's.

Neil A. Sheehan, a spokesman for the commission's regional office near Philadelphia, said Public Service Electric & Gas, Salem's major owner, replaced piping in the plant's Unit I reactor in 1996. The Unit II system tubing, he said, was manufactured using a different process than the one used for Indian Point.

"We're going to have a brief meeting by phone with the Unplug Salem people to try to learn more about their petition, and see where to go with this next," Sheehan said.

A PSE&G spokesperson could not be reached.

But Sheehan said the plant inspects tubing on an 18-month cycle.

"Unplug Salem feels that the public's safety would best be served by an immediate inspection," group spokesman Norm Cohen said.

Cohen said that 160 gallons of reactor coolant leaked from a system at Salem Unit II last week, creating a risk of unacceptable control-room radiation exposures. One month earlier, equipment problems forced a shutdown at Unit I.

Both systems were operating at 100 percent capacity Wednesday.

PSE&G has three 1,100 megawatt plants at its complex along the Delaware River in Lower Alloways Creek Township, including the twin Salem units and Hope Creek.

The regulatory commission broadened its petition process last year to expand public opportunities to be heard on safety and operating concerns.

Reach Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or jmontgom@wilmingt.gannett.com



-- Dee360Degree (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 09, 2000

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