Power Failure Shuts NY Nuke

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 @ 12:12 PM gHale

One of Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors in Buchanan, NY, shut down since Saturday’s power loss will be back online either Tuesday or Wednesday, company officials said.

Unit 2 powered down around 5:20 p.m. Saturday by operators after about 10 control rods “dropped” into the reactor core, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Operators also had to manually shutdown the reactor’s feedwater pump.

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A preliminary investigation indicated the problem stemmed from a sudden power loss to the mechanism holding the rods, said Neel Sheehan, a spokesperson for the NRC. The plant’s control rods, made of materials that can absorb neutrons, are used to control the fissioning of atoms that generate power. The reactor design calls for a safe shutdown if the control rods lose electricity.

Entergy Corp, the New Orleans-based company that owns the plant, said no radioactivity released from Unit 2.

Government inspectors visited Indian Point Saturday and Sunday.

“No immediate concerns were identified,” Sheehan said, adding inspectors would return to the site “to follow up on troubleshooting, repair activities and restart planning.”

The plant’s other reactor, Unit 3, remained running. Together, the two plants generate approximately 2,000 megawatts of electricity daily — about 30 percent of all the electricity in New York City and Westchester County.

The Unit 2 reactor was online for 627 days prior to the shutdown, said Jerry Nappi, a spokesperson for Entergy.

Still, it’s the latest in a series of mishaps at the aging facility and seems likely to stir up concerns about its operation amid a major metropolitan area of 30 million.