Unit 1 at Duke Energy's Oconee nuclear power plant in South Carolina shut down automatically on 6 March due to a fire in the unit's main transformer. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, three local fire departments attended and the fire was declared out after fewer than two hours. Investigations are continuing into the cause of the fire, which was in a non-nuclear part of the plant. Officials at the nuclear facility insisted shutting the reactor down was a "precautionary measure" and that at no time was there any danger of radiation leakage.
The situation was upgraded to an "alert" -- a second level of emergency -- after the fire damaged a power line in the site's switch-yard. Company officials stated that reactor units 2 and 3 continued to operate and that no power outages were reported due to the fire. The plant was not evacuated. Unit 1 does not currently have a date set to be returned to service. The plant began operations in 1973 and has a capacity of around 2,600MWe. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in May 2000 renewed the operating licence held by Duke Energy for the three Oconee units until 2033-2034.