OCONEE COUNTY — The Unit 1 reactor at Duke Energy’s Oconee Nuclear Station was shut down Sunday after a transformer attached to the plant’s power feeding equipment caught fire.
Officials at the nuclear facility insisted shutting the reactor down was a “precautionary measure” and that at no time was there any danger of radiation leakage.
According to Duke Energy officials, the transformer malfunctioned and caught fire a little after 3 p.m. Sunday in what the company referred to as an “unusual event.”
The situation was upgraded to an “alert” — a second level of emergency — at 4:58 p.m. after the fire damaged a power line in the site’s switch-yard. The alert was in effect until just after 8 p.m. Sunday.
Oconee County Fire responded to the scene and had the blaze under control approximately 30 minutes after arrival.
Company officials stated that reactor units 2 and 3 continued to operate and that no power outages were reported due to the fire. The plant itself was not evacuated.
A preliminary investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing and Scott Batson, vice president for the site, said that the findings would be released “within a week or two.”
Unit 1 does not currently have a date set to be returned to service.
The plant, which is located on Lake Keowee, first began operations in 1973. To date, it is one of the largest nuclear power plants in the United States with a capacity of around 2,600 megawatts.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced in May 2000 that it had renewed the operating license held by Duke Energy for Duke Power’s three Oconee Nuclear Station units through 2033-2034.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.