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Fermi-2 reactor in Michigan sees over 200 workers test positive for novel coronavirus during outage

Highlights

Outage to last 83 days: union

NRC says Fermi meeting guidelines

Washington — Nearly 250 workers at DTE Energy's 1,250-MW Fermi-2 nuclear reactor in Newport, Michigan, tested positive for the novel coronavirus during the ongoing refueling and maintenance outage, a union official said Wednesday.

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"We're up to 237," Ron Maracle, vice president of Local 687 of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, said in an interview.

Maracle said those who have tested positive include craftsmen and DTE employees.

The reactor shut for refueling and maintenance March 21.

On May 1, DTE implemented a "stand-down" that interrupted the outage.

The company said some work resumed May 4.

Maracle said DTE indicated the outage is set to last 83 days from start to finish.

The average duration of refueling outages at US nuclear units in 2019 was 36.2 days, according to S&P Global Platts data.

DTE spokesman Stephen Tait said Wednesday that although the company is not releasing specific numbers, "the totals suggest that some workers may have had the virus without showing symptoms."

Tait also said DTE does "not provide estimates for outage duration."

"We administered testing to all employees and supplemental workers, over 2,000 in all ... those who test positive can now seek the health care they need and quarantine to prevent spread," Tait said.

Since the start of the outage, Tait said, action taken by DTE has included enhanced cleaning of the plant, temperature screenings for all personnel entering the site, mandatory face mask usage while on site, and the promotion of physical and social distancing.

NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said Wednesday she could not comment on the number of cases, but she said the agency is aware of all activities at Fermi-2 and that the plant is meeting NRC safety and security guidelines.

"Our management and inspectors are in constant contact with Fermi," she said.