FRENCHTOWN TWP. (WWJ/AP) – DTE Energy says it may take months before the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant returns to full power because of substantial repairs needed on a reactor water pump.

The plant, located next to Lake Erie in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township, has been running at reduced power since July and has been off-line since Nov. 7.

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“It’s a matter of taking the generator apart, and that’s a very large, complex piece of machinery, determining the cause, repairing the problems and then getting it reassembled,” DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo told WWJ Newsradio 950.

After disassembling portions of the massive generator, Cerullo said workers had to find the small area that was allowing hydrogen gas from one part of the cooling system to leak into part of the system that’s water-cooled, which decreases the system’s effectiveness.

Cerullo said although the plant is shut down, people in the surrounding area shouldn’t worry because the plant is in a safe, stable condition.

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“It’s important to remember that the generator is on the non-nuclear side of the plant, where the electricity is generated. It’s the same type of equipment that’s in any power plant, whether it’s powered by coal, natural gas or nuclear,” he said.

Cerullo said because of power market considerations, he can’t say when an exact restart date would be.

The plant was operating at 68 percent of power when it shut down in November. Operators reduced the power July after a monthlong shutdown because of damage to a feedwater pump, which is a separate issue.

The only previous incident at the 1,100 megawatt reactor occurred on June 6, 2010 when it was hit by a small Tornado, damaging the reactor’s building and automatically shutting it down. Fermi has been running since Jan. 1988, after a construction period that spanned 20 years.

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