Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Scrams

Friday, May 13, 2011 @ 02:05 PM gHale

Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, MA, experienced its first unplanned, automatic shutdown of its reactor Tuesday in more than a year.

The plant restarted and was operating at 10 percent power on Thursday morning.

The reactor was starting up after a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage on Tuesday when the “scram” occurred, said Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesman Neil Sheehan.

The scheduled shutdowns, which take place every 18 to 24 months, involve the placement of new fuel in the reactor core as well as maintenance work on various components.

At 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, the plant’s safety system detected an anomaly and triggered a shut down, Sheehan said. It was a response to a shutdown signal from one of the devices inserted into the reactor core during the start-up to monitor power levels. At that time, the power plant was generating about 4 percent of its capacity.

Sheehan said all of the plant’s control rods were in place and the reactor safely shut down.

The last unplanned scram at the Entergy-owned plant took place on Dec. 19, 2009, Sheehan said. If a nuclear power plant has more than three unplanned scrams over a 7,000-hour period, it receives additional oversight from the NRC.

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