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PSE&G SAYS IT MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO PREVENT SALEM 2 DAMAGE

    PSE&G SAYS IT MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO PREVENT SALEM 2 DAMAGE
    NEWARK, N.J., Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) said today that it missed an opportunity to prevent a turbine overspeed condition which caused significant equipment damage at its Salem 2 nuclear unit because of the misinterpretation of earlier test results.
    The company also said today that Salem 2 would probably return to service about mid-summer 1992 and that equipment repair costs could be in the range of $65 to $75 million, virtually all of which would be covered by insurance.
    Robert J. Dougherty Jr., PSE&G senior vice president-electric, said the company discovered late yesterday it conducted tests in October which had indicated that certain turbine protection devices were inoperable.  "Unfortunately, these results were interpreted as a test procedure inadequacy rather that an equipment problem," Dougherty said.
    "While we recognize that information can be misinterpreted and equipment can fail in the operation of power plants, and while we purchase insurance to cover these situations," Dougherty said, "we are extremely disappointed that we did not use the information available to us to prevent this failure from occurring.
    "In addition to our efforts to return the unit to service as promptly as possible, we will address measures needed to strengthen our procedures and management processes to prevent such events in the future."
    Dougherty noted that the company's ongoing investigation revealed that identical components on the Salem 1 turbine were replaced in September 1990 because they failed to pass a routine check.  Based on the Salem 1 experience, the same components at the Salem 2 unit were to be replaced at its next refueling outage, which was scheduled to begin in January 1992.
    Dougherty said "an additional review of industry experience has also identified similar failures at other facilities."  He said those events are being reviewed to determine if there are any common issues.
    In assessing the equipment damage at Salem 2, Dougherty said, it appears that rebuilding or replacing the generator will take the longest time.
    He said there are several options available which are being reviewed from financial and technical viewpoints.  He added that the company is investigating the option of purchasing a new General Electric generator within the industry that is compatible with the Salem design. He said the company is also considering the use of a spare Westinghouse generator purchased for use at Salem 1.  He said the cost of the generator repair could range from $25 to $35 million.
    Dougherty said the cost of repairing the turbine and condenser could approach $40 million.
    "Given what we know today, we believe that the systems can be rebuilt and the unit returned to service by mid-summer 1992."
    Dougherty said the detailed investigation to determine the root cause of the incident is continuing.
    "Today (Nov. 21), we completed and are in the process of analyzing the results of an engineering test to recreate the hydraulic and electric control status at the time of the Nov. 9 incident.  While the detailed analysis is incomplete, we do know, as previously reported, that the regularly scheduled monthly turbine test was being conducted at the time of the incident.  During the Nov. 9 test, several turbine trip mechanisms were taken out of service by design so that they could be tested manually."  (A "trip mechanism" is a system designed to automatically shut down the facility or its components.)
    The engineered test completed early today (Nov. 21) was designed to test additional trip mechanisms that provide a redundant layer of protection for the unit, Dougherty explained.  Preliminary test results indicate those devices did not operate as designed.  A detailed PSE&G investigation, including a review by onsite NRC officials, is currently under way to determine the reason why.
    During the Nov. 9 incident at Salem 2, the nuclear side of the unit was not affected.  No radiation was released and the unit's reactor shut down safely and automatically.
    An analysis of PSE&G's property and replacement power insurance coverages has also been conducted, Dougherty said.  Property damage coverage includes a $1 million deductible and provides coverage up to $2.3 billion.  Replacement power insurance coverage initiates after a 21-week exclusion and provides coverage up to $3.5 million a week (PSE&G's share is $1.5 million) for the next 52 weeks, and slightly reduced coverage for two years beyond that.  All policies are in effect and provide coverage for the incident, thereby minimizing any cost impact on the company, the joint owners of the Salem station, and their customers.
    PSE&G operates the two-unit Salem nuclear station and owns 42.5 percent of the facility.  The other owners are Philadelphia Electric Company, Atlantic Electric Company, and Delmarva Power and Light Company.
    -0-        11/21/91
    /CONTACT:  (Media) Neil Brown, 201-430-6017, or (investors) Brian Smith, 201-430-6564, both of PSE&G/
    (PEG) CO:  Public Service Electric and Gas Company ST:  New Jersey IN:  UTI SU: JT -- NY114 -- 6151 11/21/91 18:29 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 21, 1991
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