Conn. nuclear plant unit closed due to too-warm seawater reopens

Water is used to cool key components of the plant and is discharged back into Long Island Sound. The water's temperature was averaging 1.7 degrees above the 75-degree limit.

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    This 2003 aerial file photo shows the Millstone nuclear power facility in Waterford, Conn. Federal energy regulators said Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 that the nuclear power plant shut down one of two units Sunday because water from Long Island Sound used to operate the plant is too hot following the hottest July on record.
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Connecticut's nuclear power plant has returned to full service nearly two weeks after one of its two units was forced to shut down because seawater used to cool it down was too warm.

Millstone Power Station spokesman Ken Holt said Monday that Unit 2 returned to 100 percent power Saturday. It shuttered Aug. 12 after record heat in July contributed to overheated water from Long Island Sound.

Water is used to cool key components of the plant and is discharged back into the sound. The water's temperature was averaging 1.7 degrees above the 75-degree limit.

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The temperature has since dropped to 72 degrees, Holt said.

"The water temperature cooled sufficiently to support operations and that, combined with the weather forecast, has given us the confidence to restart," he said.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an emergency license amendment to Millstone, a subsidiary of Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources Inc., shortly before it shut down, allowing it to use an average temperature of several readings. Even that wasn't enough to prevent Unit 2 from closing.

Unit 2 has occasionally shut for maintenance or other issues, but in its 37-year history it has never gone down because of excessively warm water.

As Dominion considers long-term changes in weather and the possibility that excessively warm water will be the rule rather than the exception, it's looking at doing an engineering analysis allowing the plant to operate at higher Long Island Sound temperatures, Holt said.

A study would take months and must be submitted to the NRC for review, he said.

Millstone provides half of all power in Connecticut and 12 percent in New England.

Some scientists believe the partial Millstone shutdown was the first involving a nuclear plant pulling water from an open body of water. A few nuclear plants that draw water from inland sources have powered down because of excessively warm water.

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