FORKED RIVER, N.J. — Someone working for the shut-down Oyster Creek nuclear power station intentionally destroyed records of a safety violation in an apparent attempt to cover up the mishap, the government and the plant's operator said.
The plant, which had been shut for maintenance for more than a day when the violation occurred, must remain out of service pending an investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, spokesman Karl Abraham said.
The five control room operators who were on duty at the time of the incident have been relieved of duty for the duration of the probe, said officials for GPU Nuclear Corp., operator of the plant.
The safety violation occurred Friday when, for two minutes, the plant failed to keep open at least two of the five pump valves that control the circulation of cooling water through the reactor, NRC and company officials said. The plant's license requires that at least two of the valves be left open at all times, except when the reactor vessel head has been removed.
Abraham said the destroyed records included computer tapes that recorded when the improper valve closing occurred and an alarm went off. The operators were attempting to deal with a small leak in the recirculation system when the violation occurred, he said.