H-AVILA BEACH

Jul 10, 2013 8:23 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Initial cause of Diablo Canyon Unit 2 shutdown released

Unit 2 at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant automatically shut down at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday.

A preliminary investigation points to an electrical disturbance as the cause, explained Blair Jones, PG&E spokesperson. He said it happened when a maintenance crew was power washing electrical insulators on the non-nuclear side of the unit, basically in the area where the power moves from the nuclear side to the grid.

PG&E said there are no power outages or leaks associated with this shutdown, but two Diablo employees tell KSBY that initially they thought the incident was a lot more serious, describing it like a large explosion.

One employee said that he was startled in the transformer yard when he saw a large snap of electricity that looked like a lightning bolt; however, PG&E assures the public that Unit 2 is in safe condition and will return to service after a further investigation and equipment testing.

"Our operators are going to take a methodical approach and do an investigation from top down to see what led to the unit shutting down safely as it did," said Jones.

This is the second time in about two weeks that a Diablo unit has shut down. On June 26, Unit 1 shut down after a leak was found on a pipe that is part of the residual heat removal system. According to PG&E, the pipe helps cool the reactor once it has been shut down.

Unit 1 started providing power again to California's grid on July 1, but wasn't transitioned to full capacity until July 4.

The Diablo Power Plant's two reactors produce about 2,300 megawatts, or about 10% of the power produced in California.

PG&E officials have informed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and local and state officials of Wednesday's electrical disturbance.

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