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Operators at the Perry nuclear power plant manually shut down the reactor about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday after pressure dropped in the equipment that automatically shuts down or “scrams” the reactor in an emergency.

The reactor temperature at noon today was less than 200 degrees and electrical engineers were busy trying to track down the problem.

“We are going to cold shutdown now,” said Todd Schneider, spokesman for plant owner, FirstEnergy Corp. “They are focusing on an electrical problem. Once we make the determination, it will be a relatively short shutdown.”

Perry’s overnight crew submitted a written report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about 3 a.m. The report details what the operators saw and decided to do. The report noted that under NRC rules, the operators were required to shut down if they could not diagnose the problem and fix it in 20 minutes.

The equipment that failed is critical to allowing the reactor to automatically shut down if necessary by forcing control rods into the reactor’s nuclear core in between the fuel rods. With the control rods inserted, the nuclear fission stops. Such a shutdown is called a “scram” and takes less than a few seconds.

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