Farley Nuclear Reactor Shuts Itself Down Twice During Restart Attempts

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Workers at the Farley nuclear power plant tried to restart one of these reactors twice over the weekend after shutting it down for routine refueling. Both times, the reactor shut itself back down.

"The plant functioned exactly as it was supposed to do. The reactor was shut down within a matter of seconds. No degradation of safety and no chance of release of radioactive materials to the public," says Don Grissitte, Farley General Manager.

Don Grissitte is the plant's general manager. He says so-called reactor trips are relatively common in the nuclear industry and actually a sign that safety features are working.

"That is the protective mechanism of a nuclear plant: to bring itself to safe condition if something should go wrong with the system," says Grissitte.

Word of anything unexpected at this nuclear plant may make some in the panhandle nervous, but Dothan and Houston County locals are generally not alarmed. In fact, Houston County Commissioners say they would welcome a third reactor or another plant.

"Another reactor out there would generate significant income for the county, not to mention the jobs and the economic impact it would have from that aspect," says Mark Culver, Houston County Chairman.

Commissioners' enthusiasm comes from word that the owner of the Farley plant, Southern Company and six other companies are jointly applying for a license to build new reactors or a new plant.

A Southern Company spokesperson confirms the license effort, but says the company has not yet committed itself to expanding its nuclear business.

The general manager at the Farley nuclear plant says the reactor's unexpected shutdown costs the company money, but he says it should be running again in another day or two.