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NRC to hold public meeting on Harris Nuclear Plant shutdown.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting next week in Wake County to discuss the incident that caused the unplanned May 15 shutdown of the Harris Nuclear Plant, less than 25 miles from downtown Raleigh.

The NRC is still continuing a special inspection of the nuclear facility after plant operators discovered a flaw in the nuclear reactor that had had gone unnoticed for more than a year.

The NRC classified the problem as a degraded condition that could potentially lead to an uncontrolled radioactive release, but emphasized the situation never caused a threat to public safety.

The federal agency also said the flaw has been repaired and the plant is expected to resume operating soon. The NRC will issue a final inspection report in mid-July.

The Harris plant is operated by Raleigh-based Duke Energy Progress, a subsidiary of Charlotte-based Duke Energy. Duke acquired Progress a year ago as part of a corporate merger.

Last month plant operators discovered a 1/4-inch flaw in a nozzle in the lid of the nuclear reactor. The flaw suggested strain, wear or corrosion. The 6-inch-thick lid, or vessel head, contains the nuclear reaction and also the water inside that's superheated at extremely high pressure.

The flaw was discovered in ultrasonic test records conducted in the spring of 2012. It's not clear why the flaw went undetected for more than a year.

The NRC said that last year, the utility discovered four other small "indications" of potential flaws. They were fixed at the time.

The public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, June 13, at the Holly Springs Cultural Center, 300 West Ballentine St., Holly Springs.

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About the blogger

John Murawski has been a full-time newspaper reporter since 1991, with stints at Legal Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy (both in Washington, DC), The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Palm Beach Post (in South Florida) before arriving at the N&O in December 2004. At the N&O he covers energy (nuclear, coal, renewable, efficiency), hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), public utilities and health care. His beat includes PSNC Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Duke Energy Progress, PowerSecure International, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Biogen Idec and others. He has also contributed more than 30 book reviews on topics spanning botany, history, science and religion. You can reach him at 919-829-8932 or e-mail him.
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