Pilgrim Power Back; Plant Still Down

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 @ 09:02 AM gHale

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, which shut down after it lost power to its safety systems during the weekend snowstorm, once again has electricity, but it will remain out of commission while repair work takes place on a leaky safety relief valve that caused a problem at the plant last month, federal regulatory officials said.

The power, provided by local utilities, returned at 12 a.m. Tuesday, according to a statement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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“Our resident inspectors assigned to Pilgrim will continue to closely follow the repair work and other activities as the company plans to return the unit to service,” the NRC said.

Pilgrim, owned by Entergy Corp. of Louisiana, first lost power Friday night when a severe winter storm knocked three offsite power lines out of service, according to regulatory filings and the NRC. Officials took the plant offline, and diesel generators powered its safety systems. Electricity temporarily returned to the plant Sunday morning, but went out again when plant operators believe falling ice struck a transformer.

Entergy spokeswoman Carol Wightman said Sunday that Pilgrim would only come back online once it went through testing and maintenance. She could not say when that would be.

Pilgrim’s current shutdown is its third this year. The first two — both in January — were from equipment issues at the plant.

The leaky safety valve now under repair caused one of the January shutdowns. The other happened when the plant’s recirculation pumps, used to adjust power levels, stopped working.

Pilgrim, which began operating in 1972, ended up relicensed by the NRC last year. The license extends until 2032.

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