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Fermi 2 back to full power

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THE BLADE
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NEWPORT, Mich. — A DTE Energy spokesman said the utility’s Fermi 2 nuclear reactor is now back at full power.

Stephen Tait told The Blade on Friday that operators had increased power to 100 percent that day after work done on one of the plant’s two reactor feed pumps had been completed.

“The plant has remained in a safe, stable condition throughout the process,” Mr. Tait said.

Fermi 2 had been idle for three weeks because of a transformer malfunction, then had trouble getting back to full power since its May 5 restart.

Nuclear plants typically take several days to achieve full power after any restart.

But one of the pumps had what’s been described as unexpected — though not serious — vibrations. After holding the reactor at 90 percent power for a few days, the decision was made to insert control rods and operate at reduced power so repairs could be made. The reactor was held at about 62 or 63 percent power during that period.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission online records show Fermi 2 began Friday at 73 percent power.

Automatic safety systems brought the reactor down for an unplanned shutdown on April 14 because of the transformer malfunction. Workers repaired the transformer and a valve on the reactor recirculation system.

The work was overseen by onsite NRC inspectors.

In a related matter, the NRC just announced it will host its annual open house on May 30 to answer questions the public might have about Fermi 2’s 2017 performance.

The NRC staff has concluded the plant operated safely, even after getting increased NRC oversight starting in the first quarter of 2017 because of an issue with the site’s emergency plan. That issue has since been resolved, and the plant has been under normal oversight since Jan. 1.

The open house will be inside the Monroe County Courthouse at 125 E. Second St., Monroe, from 6 to 8 p.m. Annual assessments for all nuclear plants are available on the agency’s website, www.nrc.gov. Current performance information is also available, the NRC said.

Fermi 2 is in northern Monroe County, along western Lake Erie and about 30 miles north of Toledo.

Contact Tom Henry at thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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