Progress Energy Florida said Monday afternoon that its Crystal River nuclear plant, shut down since September 2009, will remain out of service while the company conducts an engineering analysis and reviews a delamination or separation of concrete in the plant's containment building.
Progress confirmed the existence of a delamination, the second for the plant, which the company said in March may have occurred during a recent "retensioning" of steel tendons lacing the containment building.
The utility said it has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Florida Public Service Commission of its plan to keep the plant, known as Crystal River 3 or CR3, shut down.
"Options to return the plant to service will be analyzed after the report is complete. The company cannot estimate a return to service date for CR3 at this time," Progress Energy Florida stated.
The company has anticipated several startup dates since 2009, the most recent being this month.
In March, however, company monitors detected a possible second delamination of the containment building.
"We are looking at all repair options," company spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said.
The decision to conduct a "thorough" engineering analysis has nothing to do with recent industry concerns over the safety and damage to several of Japan's nuclear power plants or with President Barack Obama's call for a comprehensive review of all U.S. nuclear plants, she said.
The Crystal River nuclear plant, which can generate 860 megawatts of power, went into service in March 1977. Its current license expires in 2016. The company filed for a license renewal with the NRC in 2008, requesting an additional 20 years of operation.
Since the September 2009 shutdown, the combined costs of CR3's repairs and the energy purchased to replace that from the out-of-service plant has approached $500 million.