NY Nuke Shuts Down; Leaks Oil

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 @ 08:07 PM gHale


Workers at the FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Scriba, NY, had to manually shut down June 24 after a loss of power caused water pumps to stop working.

The plant remained in cold shutdown, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials.

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The problems June 24 started when a circuit breaker tripped at 12:15 p.m., according to a report filed with the NRC. A pump in the reactor cooling system also tripped offline, forcing operators to manually shut the reactor down at 12:36 p.m., the report said.

All the control rods ended up inserted to stop the nuclear reaction, and the process started to put the reactor in cold shutdown status, plant operators told the NRC. A “cold shutdown,” the state in which refueling outages end up conducted, means the temperature in the reactor coolant system is below 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just before 3 a.m. June 27, FitzPatrick officials reported a sheen on the surface of Lake Ontario observed June 26 by the Coast Guard was caused by oil leaking from the nuclear plant’s turbine building.

Plant officials said lubrication oil leaked from a storage tank because of an apparent pump failure. The oil pooled on the roof, then leaked down a roof drain and found its way into the lake, said Jerry Nappi, speaking for plant owner Entergy Corp.

The leak had been stopped and cleanup efforts were underway this morning, according to NRC records. It’s not clear whether the oil leak ended up related to the emergency shutdown of the plant Friday.

“The problem with the lubrication oil pump apparently occurred around the same time frame as the shutdown, but (the) investigation continues into the cause of the oil spill,” Nappi said.

About 20-30 gallons of oil leaked into the lake.

“It appears about 20 to 30 gallons that leaked were then drained through the plant’s discharge drain system to the lake,” said NRC Spokesperson, Neil Sheehan.

FitzPatrick officials reported temperatures in the spent fuel pool were rising because the reactor building’s closed-loop cooling system was down, but cooling ended up restored to the spent fuel pool, Nappi said.

Officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation said they are investigating the oil spill.