MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it needs more information from Entergy Nuclear about cracks in Vermont Yankee’s steam dryer.

The steam dryer was the subject of two top-level, closed-door meetings at NRC headquarters outside Washington this week.

After the meetings, an NRC official said additional information is still needed.

Earlier this month, the NRC said the steam dryer cracking was the biggest obstacle to Entergy Nuclear’s plans to produce an additional 100 megawatts of power from Vermont Yankee.

Rick Ennis, NRC project manager for Vermont Yankee, based at NRC’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., said Thursday that the two days of meetings didn’t result in any action, but that General Electric and Entergy engineers provided information to the NRC technical staff.

The steam dryer problems are a problem of industry-wide concern because GE, the main nuclear industry consultant on reactor uprates, hasn’t been able to solve the cracking problem at other nuclear reactors’ steam dryers, despite repeated “fixes.”

“It’s the biggest issue,” Ennis said of the steam dryer. “It’s the inability of the industry to get a handle on it, and resolve the issue.”

In the case of the Quad Cities reactors in Illinois, GE has tried to fix the problem at least three times and failed, Ennis said.

Ennis said the NRC wants additional information from Entergy and GE. Steam dryers are only in boiling-water reactors, such as Vermont Yankee. “I feel we are making progress, we had some very good information exchanges,” he said.

While the steam dryer is a non-safety related component, the cracking could result in pieces breaking off, and falling back into the steam lines that lead out of the reactor.

In the case of several reactors in Illinois, the plants have been forced to shut down because of the cracking, making the plants less reliable.


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