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Cracked Pipe Closes S.C. Nuke Plant

October 24, 2000

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ Radioactive water leaked from a cracked pipe at a nuclear power plant but in a small quantity that did not endanger workers or the public, officials said.

The leak was discovered during a routine inspection at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Fairfield County, according to South Carolina Electric & Gas, which owns two-thirds of the plant.

SCE&G spokesman Brian Duncan said the leak’s source is a welded connection in a pipe that carries millions of gallons of water. He said the leak was too small to trip the plant’s monitoring system.

Inspectors detected the leak after noticing on a floor a white powder that was later identified as boron, which is used to regulate the fission process. The boron would have been dissolved in the leaking water but was left behind as the water evaporated.

The routine inspection is conducted every 18 months. The plant will remain shut down until late November or early December while the crack is repaired and radioactive materials removed.

Duncan said SCE&G may buy power on the open market to make up for the loss of power generated at the Summer plant, which provides about 20 percent of SCE&G’s power.

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission team is also investigating the leak.

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