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Officials Propose Solution to Nuclear Plant Problem

October 11, 1990

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (AP) _ State officials have come up with a plan to remove and store two highly radioactive uranium fuel assemblies dangling precariously inside the Indian Point 3 nuclear reactor.

The 14-foot, 1,200-pound assemblies were accidentally pulled from the core of the reactor during refueling last week and became snagged. They are far too radioactive for workers to try to fix the problem and put them back in place.

Officials are worried the assemblies could drop back into the core, damaging equipment and releasing radioactive gases inside the plant.

The New York Power Authority, which owns and operates the plant, wants to move the assemblies to special steel baskets in a storage area next the reactor, and eventually transfer them to the plant’s spent fuel rod storage pool, spokesman Carl Patrick said Wednesday.

The agency planned to present the proposal to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today or Friday for approval, said another authority spokesman, Todd Forte.

Both assemblies consist of 204 thin metal rods and hold hundreds of ceramic uranium pellets. They are dangling in water from a heavy metal plate suspended from a crane.

NRC spokesman Karl Abraham has said radiation wouldn’t escape the plant if the assemblies fell.

The 14-year-old plant was removed from service Sept. 15 for refueling and maintenance.

Other work in the containment building has been suspended until the problem is solved. Forte said it isn’t clear how long the problem would delay electricity production, which was supposed to resume by Thanksgiving weekend.

Indian Point 3, a 600-megawatt reactor, is about 35 miles north of New York City.

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