Transformer fire takes AEP’s Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 off-line; site emergency plan briefly activated at lowest level

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BRIDGMAN, Mich., Jan. 16, 2003 - A fire last night in the main transformer of American Electric Power’s (NYSE: AEP) Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 resulted in the automatic shutdown of the reactor and a brief activation of the site emergency plan. The fire was extinguished in 35 minutes by the site fire brigade. One security officer suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Lakeland Hospital and released.

The transformer is located outside and adjacent to the plant. It is used to increase the voltage of the plant’s generator for more efficient long-distance transmission.

The failure of the transformer resulted in the automatic shutdown of the reactor, which was operating at full power. All safety systems responded appropriately and the unit is in stable condition.

The site emergency plan was activated at the Unusual Event level because the fire was of greater than 15-minute duration. An Unusual Event is the lowest of the four emergency classifications. The emergency plan was exited after the fire was extinguished and upon completion of procedural reviews. Notifications were made to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state and local emergency response agencies.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. A replacement transformer is available on-site. Return-to-service estimates are being prepared.

Oil from the transformer and water from the fire fighting efforts combined to overwhelm the oil-containment catch basins and some non-PCB oil was released to the storm-water system. Cleanup efforts are under way, and it is believed the vast majority of oil can be recovered. Notifications were made to the appropriate federal, state and local environmental agencies.

Cook Unit 2 remains at full power.

American Electric Power, an energy company with a balanced portfolio of energy assets, owns and operates more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States and select international markets and is the largest electricity generator in the U.S. AEP is a leading wholesale marketer of energy commodities, utilizing its energy expertise and risk management skills to make optimal use of its generation, natural gas pipelines, natural gas storage, coal mines and inland barge fleet. AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with almost 5 million customers linked to AEP’s 11-state electricity transmission and distribution grid. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.

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Bill Schalk
Communications Manager
American Electric Power
269/465-6101