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NRC investigates Southern Co.'s Hatch nuclear plant for faulty safety valves

TheNuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special investigation into thesafety relief valves at SouthernNuclear Operating Co.'s Edwin I Hatch nuclear plant near Baxley, Ga.

Theregulators announced the investigation in an April 4 after three of the unit's11 safety relief valves, which were sent to a NRC laboratory following arefueling outage, failed to close during tests. The safety relief valves, whichprovide protection from excessive steam pressure, were replaced during theplanned outage with the same type of valve.

TheNRC said the cause of the three valves failing to close has not yet beendetermined but stressed that, even though the valves were in service during thereactor's last operating cycle, none of them failed during operations and posedno danger to the public.

Accordingto the NRC, the investigation will take several days.

SouthernNuclear Operating Co. is a subsidiary of Southern Co. Inc.