Electric arc cause of nuclear plant fire

Blaze not near reactor

The brief Friday night fire at the Callaway Energy Center was caused by an electrical arc along the main power conduit from the power-generating turbine leading to electrical distribution power lines, a plant engineer said Monday.

Cleveland Reasoner, vice president of engineering at the Callaway Energy Center, said the small fire, reported at 11:49 p.m. Friday, was in the turbine building, and at no time caused a threat to the public.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was brought under control in a few minutes by the plant’s fire brigade — which is on duty around the clock.

Reasoner said the electrical arc occurred just outside the turbine building along a large metal bar that conducts electricity generated by the plant’s power-generating turbine to electric power lines. He said the bar has a huge electrical charge pushing all electricity generated from the plant. That large amount of energy flowing along the bar causes it to heat up, requiring it to be enclosed in air-conditioned metal ductwork.

The arc, or spark, from the large metal bar jumped up to the metal ductwork and traveled along the ductwork inside the turbine building, causing a fire when insulation along the ductwork ignited.

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