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South Carolina nuclear power plant operator insists ‘no danger to public’ after ‘small leak’ forces reactor SHUTDOWN

The coolant leak at the VC Summer nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, South Carolina had been discovered several weeks ago and last week engineers were forced to shut its sole reactor down. The company in charge of the plant, Dominion Energy, says no nuclear material has escaped the facility

Plant operators “have been monitoring a very small leak in the reactor coolant system,” Dominion Energy said in a statement. “This small leak is captured within the site’s containment building and is not going to the environment.”

A company spokesman, Ken Holt, reiterated on Monday that the malfunction was “small” and posed “no danger to the public,” and said while there was no need to halt activity at the plant, “operators made the conservative decision to shut down the reactor to address the leak” anyway.

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The full extent of the incident remains unclear, but the company suggested a faulty valve may be the culprit. Dominion declined to say when the plant would be back online, arguing the date it returns to service is “market sensitive information.”

Though the plant operator insists there’s nothing to see at VC Summer, South Carolina-based nuclear safety expert and environmental activist Tom Clements said Dominion’s lack of transparency was alarming.

“They should have notified the public,” Clements told a local newspaper. “With nuclear plants, it is essential that there be full openness about safety related issues.”

Clements previously filed a complaint over a plan to construct two new reactors at VC Summer, arguing the company leading the project – the SCANA Corporation – employed unqualified engineers to draft construction blueprints, which led to thousands of design revisions, setbacks and cost overruns. Due to the mounting problems, the reactor plan was ultimately scrapped in 2017. The existing reactor at VC Summer has been in operation for over 35 years.

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