LACEY TOWNSHIP — A broken water hose at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant was about a decade older than it should have been, which is what caused it to fail during a January test, federal regulators said.

The 3-inch hose pumps water from a storage tank to cool down the plant’s emergency diesel generators.

Those generators play an important role if electricity into the plant from the power grid is cut off, regulators said.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is increasing oversight at the Exelon-owned plant based on the finalization of its enforcement action.

Exelon is not contesting the violation, the NRC says.

The commission issued a “white” inspection finding, which it lists as being of low to moderate safety significance.

In November, federal regulators said they were returning to normal oversight of the nation’s oldest nuclear plant after four unplanned shutdowns within a year had prompted more inspections.

A January test found the leaking hose, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

“We found that Exelon did not have appropriate work instructions to replace the emergency diesel generator cooling flexible coupling hoses every 12 years as specified by the company’s procedures and vendor information,” Sheehan said. “As a result, the hose was in service for approximately 22 years and subjected to thermal degradation and aging that eventually led to its failure.”

Federal regulators will review the root causes of the problem, Exelon’s corrective action and whether the problems stretch to other areas of the plant, he said.

The Exelon-owned plant will be 50 years old when the company closes it in 2019.

Oyster Creek uses nuclear power to boil water into steam and spin turbines, producing enough electricity to power about 600,000 homes.

Contact: 609-272-7253

Twitter @BIanieri

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