Nuclear plant makes changes after fires

Hartsville, SC - HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – Workers at the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Plant in Hartsville said they are making changes after two fires forced the plant to shut down in March.

Andy Cole, spokesperson for Progress Energy, said Wednesday the company presented findings of an internal investigation into what happened to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Cole said the meeting was requested by Progress Energy so they could review what findings the commission found in its own investigation.

"Anytime you see a fire, particularly at a nuclear power plant, it is a significant event," Cole said. "Whether it's a trash can fire or a 4,000 volt electrical panel, it is a significant event. Throughout the industry, everyone wants to know what happened and what the root cause of it was."

Cole said the month-long investigation involving 20 people from the company revealed a fuse in one-of-five 4,000 volt electrical panels caused a fire. Officials said the fuse then started a second fire a short time later.

Safety systems managed to keep the fire under control, allowing employees to extinguish it within 10 minutes. Cole added the plant wants to make sure the same problem doesn't happen again, and are making 31 changes to prevent it from happening again.

"All of our safety systems worked as they are designed to work, and it was not an interruption in our ability to safely shut down the plant, which is always your goal - to safely shut down the plant," Cole explained.

Officials state the changes range from more training for workers to new equipment being installed. Now the company waits for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to release its findings.

A public meeting is being planned for the first of June, but a final date has not been set.