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Equipment Malfunction aused Monticello Nuclear Plant Shut Down

Glitches in the equipment that operates and protects the Monticello nuclear power plant was the reason for the plant's automatic shutdown in September, the Star Tribune reported.

The plant returned to full operation on Wednesday, after being shut down at zero percent power for three weeks. During this time, no radiation was released, said the plant's owner, Xcel Energy.

The equipment malfunction lead to a visit from the a special inspection team from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), who will report their findings next month. The NRC has inspected the plant once before in 1991 after an unexpected shutdown, Xcel officials said.

The power lose resulted from a broken cable that disconnected the plant from its main transformer and source of electricity, NRC documents stated and Xcel site vice president Tim O'Connor said.

MPR reported on the initial shut down. At this time is was believed a fuse opened up on the line that supplies electrical power to the single-unit nuclear plant, said Xcel spokesman Thomas Hoen.

Original statements also did not predict the amount of time that would be required to reopen the plant. "The plant right now is at zero percent power, and will be remaining at zero percent power for the next few days at least," Hoen said.