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First Energy working on plan to repair hole in nuclear plant near East Liverpool

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SHIPPINGPORT, Pa. - First Energy says it is making plans to repair hole discovered in a steel plate that helps contain radiation inside one of it's nuclear power units along the Ohio River near East Liverpool.

According to information from First Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the hole was discovered during a routine inspection when Beaver Valley Unit One was shut down for refueling.

First Energy says that on Friday, an inspection of the containment building detected the hole in a 3/8 inch thick steel liner which covers a 4.5 foot thick concrete wall surrounding the reactor.

The hole is described as rust degradation measuring approximately 0.4 inches by 0.28 inches. An ultrasonic inspection of the wall identified a fibrous material - most likely a piece of wood - inside the concrete touching the steel liner.  First Energy speculates that the hole formed when the material decayed.

In 2009, a similar material caused corrosion in the steel liner in a different section of the building. The material was determined to be a wood spacer from the concrete pour during construction. The degraded area was removed and replaced with a new section of steel, and First Energy says that the repaired area from 2009 has not experienced any additional degradation.

The utility is still determining how to repair the recently discovered hole. However, First Energy says it expects to use the same process that was used in 2009.

First Energy says the hole poses no impact on public health and safety. The utility says the steel liner is not required for structural integrity of the building, adding that a much larger degraded area would be required before the liner's function as a radiological barrier would be impaired.

Unit One remains shut down. Because Beaver Valley is a competitive generating unit, First Energy says it does not plan to release the expected length of the outage.

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