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AEP finds cracks on Mich. Cook 2 nuke vessel head

Reuters, 05.19.03, 8:42 AM ET


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NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - Adding to the list of nuclear power reactors with vessel head problems, American Electric Power Co Inc. (nyse: AEP - news - people) (AEP) said Monday it found cracks on the head of its 1,090 megawatt (MW) Cook 2 unit in Michigan during a refueling outage.

AEP said in a report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the cracks will have to be repaired before the unit's next refueling outage, which will likely extend the length of its current refueling outage.

Both reactors at Cook have been shut since about April 24 when fish blocked the station's cooling water intake system.

Cracks and other degraded conditions have been discovered in several of the nation's pressurized water reactors.

The two units at Cook are pressurized water reactors.

AEP has said in the past it was considering the replacement of the vessel heads at Cook.

In the NRC report, AEP said it found "craze cracking indications" on a reactor pressure vessel head penetration.

The company went on to describe the degradation as "five small, shallow indications ... the indications are closely spaced ... initial calculations showed a crack depth of 0.117 inches."

The company concluded there was "no through-wall leakage" and "the reactor coolant pressure boundary remains intact."

AEP said the indications were "previously identified during the last refueling outage in February 2002."

At that time, AEP determined it was "acceptable to leave (the unit) in service for a full cycle."

However, due to more stringent operating procedures adopted by the nuclear power industry since 2002, AEP determined "repairs will be needed" before another full refueling cycle even though the cracking has "not shown any significant growth" since 2002.

There are two units at the Cook station, the 1,035 MW unit 1 and 1,090 MW unit 2. Both units have been shut since the fish incident on about April 24.

The Cook station is about 11 miles south of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service

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