“BUCHANAN — Workers shut down Indian Point 2 yesterday morning after problems developed with discharge valves in a 10,000-gallon tank of nonradioactive water.
Plant employees and the public were never at risk, and the 500-degree liquid never leaked, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said.
“We’re trying to better understand the circumstances leading up to the (shutdown),” said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman. “But workers followed the whole sequence properly. This is why they spend countless hours in the simulator. We’re going to be taking a close look at this with our resident engineers.”
Officials from Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates the nuclear plants at the site, said that the 1,000-megawatt plant was stopped about 10:30 a.m. for the first time since its monthlong refueling ended in mid-May.
The outage did not affect Indian Point 3, which also generates about 1,000 megawatts.
Regulatory and company officials gave this account
About 10:15 a.m., workers noticed a problem with Indian Point 2’s heater drain tank, which collects overflow reactor-heated water as it creates the steam that turns the huge turbines and generates electricity.
Sheehan said the discharge valves that control the levels of water in the tank were stuck on 55 percent capacity, apparently because of an electrical problem.
Workers initially reduced power output to 70 percent when a fluctuation in the reactor required a further reduction to 50 percent.
Workers were then forced to shut the plant down within 15 minutes.
Entergy officials said the plant will return to service after repairs are made in the next few days.
Larry Gottlieb, a spokesman for Indian Point, said the water monitoring system is the only way to determine how much liquid is in the closed tanks, and repairs could not take place while the plant was operating.
In the worst case, the tanks would have emptied and burned out their pumps, he said.
“This is not a big repair job,” Gottlieb said. “Operators took conservative action to shut down the reactor.”
Indian Point 3, which is newer than Indian Point 2, was shut down twice in July for electrical problems.
Indian Point 2’s last unplanned shutdown was in late December, when a valve on one of the plant’s four steam generators needed to be resealed.
NRC spokesman Sheehan said the problems do not appear to be be related.“
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