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Radioactive leak found in reactor at S. Carolina nuclear plant, one of largest in US

Published time: November 11, 2013 22:07
Edited time: November 13, 2013 08:25
Oconee Nuclear Station (Photo from

Oconee Nuclear Station (Photo from

A reactor at one of the nation’s largest nuclear power plants has been taken offline due to a radioactive leak within a containment building.

"Out of an abundance of caution,” service was temporarily removed from Unit 1 at the Oconee Nuclear Station in western South Carolina early Monday, according to ONS spokeswoman B.J. Gatten.

A robot was used to confirm the leak over the weekend after it was first suspected Friday night inside Unit 1’s containment facility, Gatten said.

Less than one tenth of a gallon of radioactive material is leaking per minute, though it is not yet known how long the leak has existed, she said, according to WYFF.

The leak remains solely inside the containment building, a steel-lined, airtight area with concrete walls several feet thick. No one works inside the containment building, Gatten said.

The leak is subject to ongoing repairs and analysis, though there is no estimate for when it will go back online.

Gatten claims the leak will not put any employees or the public in danger, nor will it affect service.

The leak has been reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, she said. A Commission report said Unit 1 was running at full power Friday.

Unit 2 at ONS was offline already for routine refueling, leaving one reactor - Unit 3 - online Monday.

ONS is run by Duke Energy, and began operation in 1973 with an initial expiration date in 2013, per 40-year regulatory standards. However, its license was extended for an additional 20 years - only the second reactor to earn such a renewal - and is now scheduled to expire in 2033.

The power plant is located on Lake Keowee near Seneca, South Carolina. Its energy output is over 2,500 megawatts - enough electricity to power 1.9 million homes, according to Duke Energy.

Comments (46)


Atari2600 04.12.2013 19:44

Jon K. 13.11.2013 00:28

You receive more radiation exposure from the sun in a day than you do if you sit in a building right next to the reactor building.


Ha ha ha...yes, but that radiation doesn't make me sick the way nuclear power does. Go live next to a reactor Jon if you are so confident. I will take sun exposure over nuke exposure any day of the week. Hot particles and other unfiltered gamma radiation from nukes are dangerous and the average person does not have the means to escape them once they are loose in the environment. Conversely, if I want to escape the sun, I just go inside.


Atari2600 04.12.2013 19:22

Please google, "fukushima, scripps pier, UCSD".


Atari2600 04.12.2013 19:17

Nuclear is not safe. As for Gordon in Australia, you may not have nuke plants but you guys have uranium mines. research uranium mining and the devastating effect that has on local communities. Nuclear is not clean or safe. And it is expensive...6 billion to bring the latest plant online in S. Carolina and how much to decommission? In CA, Socal Edison was supposed to have an account set up to fund decommissioning (per NRC requirements) for San Onofre. They didn't. So now, rate payers are being charged extra in order to fund the decommissioning. Which is expected to cost in excess of $2 Billion. Cheap indeed!

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