Nuke Plants Online After Fixing Leaks

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 @ 06:03 PM gHale


Two nuclear plants are now back online after suffering non radioactive water leaks.

Entergy Nuclear officials restarted Indian Point 3 Wednesday in Buchanan, NY, after taking it offline to repair a leaking pipe that brings Hudson River water into the nuclear plant to cool its equipment.

There has been no release of radioactive material during the shutdown, regulators and plant officials said.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials said Indian Point 3 workers were removing insulation in a manhole-like pit that houses valves when they spotted water entering the pit from a leaking pipe.

The pit encloses two valves and piping associated with the service-water system. The valves supply a 10-inch pipe that provides cooling water to systems that are not safety related such as feedwater pumps, main turbine seals and an oil system.

The water does not come into contact with any radioactivity.

“At 2:25 p.m., after further evaluation, plant operators determined the leak location required a plant shutdown because, with the leak, the pipe’s seismic-related structural integrity cannot be assured,” said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman. “Also, operators might have to enter the pit following an accident and they would not be able to do so if the pit was filled with water.”

NRC resident inspectors assigned to the reactor closely monitored Entergy’s response to the leak throughout the day, including the shutdown.

Meanwhile, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, MA, is now back up and running following a three-day shutdown to repair a leak in a cooling system.

Operators noticed the leak and started a controlled shutdown of the 685-megawatt plant and notified the NRC.

Plant spokesman David Tarantino said this morning that workers were putting the plant back on line. The plant was shut down after monitors detected a leak in a tube that carries salt water used in a cooling system. The plant is next to the ocean and uses sea water to cool the steaming hot fresh water that turns the plant’s electricity-generating turbines.

The state’s only nuclear plant was operating at 100 percent capacity when the shutdown occurred. It had been on line for 634 consecutive days – “a record for us,” Tarantino said.

Entergy, which operates the facility, said “this event had no impact on the health and/or safety of the public.”

The report said that a section of a reactor building was “declared inoperable” Feb. 18 and could not be repaired within 72 hours, prompting the shutdown at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.



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