Bellefonte reactor cable break holds up work

One of the tensioned cables used to support a reactor containment wall at the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant unexpectedly snapped last summer, and federal regulators want TVA to explain why before resuming any construction at the idled facility.

Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Tuesday that the NRC wants the Tennessee Valley Authority to assess whether the broken vertical tendon at Bellefonte reflects any equipment or maintanance failures that could create more problems. NRC inspectors in December gave a favorable review of TVA's maintenance of the idled plant, where construction has been halted since 1988.

"If multiple containment tendons are found to be losing the capability to carry design force and this condition was left uncorrected, this could jeopardize the ability of the containment structure to perform its design function," the NRC said in its incident report last month.