The Emergency Shutdown System (ESD) shall minimize the consequences of emergency situations, related to typically uncontrolled flooding, escape of hydrocarbons, or outbreak of fire in hydrocarbon carrying areas or areas which may otherwise be hazardous.
The problem with the monitoring procedure and equipment at the Crystal River plant dates to June 2000, when Progress Energy Florida changed its procedures to meet new standards. Heather Danenhower, a spokeswoman for the Crystal River plant, said Progress Energy Florida eventually fixed the problem when workers discovered that their procedures did not match the ability of their equipment to give proper warnings. During an upgrade project that fall to replace old steam generators, the nuclear plant reactor's 42-inch thick concrete containment building cracked. After an Emergency Shut-Down button has been activated and the emergency situation has been resolved, the system power can be restored and the MRI system restarted by an Operator.
Duke Power, which acquired Progress Energy last July, announced earlier this month that it would permanently close the plant.

The emergency shut-down procedure will shut down the entire MRI system but will NOT quench the magnet. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission notice sent out Tuesday identified two other plants with the same flaw, the Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin and the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Minnesota. Federal and state regulators are reviewing Duke Energy's plans for retiring the plant, the first nuclear plant to close in Florida and the first major one in the southeast United States. For more than a decade, Progress Energy Florida had a serious flaw in the safety procedures at its Crystal River nuclear plant. If a nuclear plant suffers a major radiation leak, the utility is required to have procedures for notifying the public so local authorities can order evacuations. Personnel must be aware that after initiating the emergency shut-down procedure the 3 tesla magnetic field is still present and all magnet safety procedures must still be followed.

The procedure that Progress Energy wrote set the amount of radiation that would trigger a warning at a higher level than what the monitors could ever indicate, according to the NRC. But had there been a major release of radiation into the community, workers at the plant would have had to rely on their knowledge, experience or some other indicator rather than the monitoring system to warn local authorities to evacuate residents, the NRC said. The problem could have been solved two ways: Rewrite the procedures to lower the radiation level that triggers a warning or use monitors that could measure the higher levels.
Dave Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the problem is something Progress Energy Florida, the local subsidiary of Duke Energy that runs the plant, should have caught long ago.

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