New Hill, N.C. — A quarter-inch crack in a reactor sensor at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in southwest Wake County has forced Duke Energy to take the plant offline, officials said Thursday.
No radioactive material leaked from the plant, and public health and safety is not in danger, spokeswoman Kim Crawford said.
Crawford said she couldn’t say how long the reactor would be out of commission, but she said the utility has plenty of capacity and wouldn’t need to purchase electricity from outside sources to meet demand.
“We’re not anticipating any issues,” she said. “While our plant is offline, we’ll continue to serve our customers.”
Shearon Harris provides power to about 550,000 customers, and industry sources said not operating the reactor could cost Duke about $1 million a day.
According to information Duke filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ultrasonic tests of the reactor were taken a year ago when Shearon Harris was taken offline for refueling. A secondary review of those tests this week revealed the “primary water stress corrosion cracking” on a temperature sensor near where cooling rods attach to the reactor head.
“To have a crack in a reactor vessel head that went undetected for at least a year, that’s very troubling,” said Jim Warren, executive director of utility watchdog NC WARN, a frequent critic of Duke and Progress.