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Atomic Power Lab shuts down two reactors

Two nuclear reactors were shut down temporarily for maintenance at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) Kesselring site, and 80 sailors were recently transferred to another site. Spokesman Gene Terwilliger said none of the actions caused any risk to the public.

The KSO reactors are shut down due to previously scheduled, planned maintenance, said Terwilliger. "However, the shutdowns have been extended to allow us to complete additional maintenance."

During routine maintenance, inspection crews found six valves in a back-up reactor safety system were incorrectly installed. The valves are now being corrected to meet system design and performance on the safety system.

"This was not at all an evacuation," said Terwilliger.

The training site, just west of the Village of Ballston Spa, teaches Navy sailors to operate the reactor plants that power U.S. Navy nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.

KAPL is operated by Lockheed Martin for the Department of Energy. At any given time, some 1,300 Navy officers are being trained on site; an additional 500 KAPL employees and 180 subcontractor personnel work at the Kesselring location.

Terwilliger said there were no leaks or any other type of malfunction associated with the closing of the reactors.

The 80 Navy students were transferred from the Kesselring site to a training site in Charleston, S.C., to complete their education in running the equipment.

"They need to be trained and put to work in the Navy, and we didn't want to delay that," said Terwilliger.

The remaining students stayed at the local site to continue their classroom instruction. Kesselring said representatives of the site have always kept the public informed about events inside KAPL.

"We fully communicate to people; things happen on a daily basis that aren't sufficiently important to tell the public," said Terwilliger. "Even if a situation is in any way possibly close to dangerous, we tell the public."

But town officials said residents living near the site may still feel a bit leery when they hear news about shut-down reactors.

"There are worries about possible problems there, and I do have people tell me they're constantly on watch," said Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano. "I reassure village residents that safety has never been an issue, but there's always that thought in the back of their minds." ""

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