“BUCHANAN -Indian Point 2 stumbled into its planned refueling outage two days early when a malfunctioning pump that brings in Hudson River water forced workers to shut the reactor down.

The unplanned shutdown at Indian Point 2 won’t affect its safety rating, federal regulators said, because the reactor must have three such shutdowns in a rolling 12-month period and remains below that threshold. The problem occurred in the nonnuclear part of the operation.

“At the time, the plant was in a ‘coastdown’ to an upcoming refueling and maintenance outage and therefore had already reduced power to 94 percent,” said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which was alerted when the plant shut down about 10:15 Sunday night. “The shutdown itself went smoothly.”

Sheehan said immediately following the reactor trip, the NRC’s on-site staff responded to the control room and determined the plant was in a stable condition.

The inspectors continue to inspect Indian Point’s activities to ensure the company is properly reviewing the event and taking appropriate corrective action. The NRC has not identified any safety issues.

Company officials said the pump that now will be repaired during the refueling outage provides water to the plant’s four steam generators, which change the water to steam that spins the main generator and makes electricity.

Indian Point 2 had operated for 298 days without incident; Indian Point 3 was unaffected and continued at full power, as it will while Indian Point 2 is offline for up to about 30 days. The company will restock the fuel during that time, as it does every other spring. Indian Point 3 has operated continuously for 327 days.

“It just happened. They’re still investigating why,” said Robyn Bentley, a spokeswoman for Entergy Nuclear, the company that owns and operates Indian Point. “It was one of the main boiler feed pumps.”

In May, Indian Point 2’s broken water valve took the nuclear plant off the state’s electrical grid, but it did not require a full shutdown that would have lowered its safety rating from green – the best – to white, the second of four levels.

The reactor had its share of problems for the 18 months before that with five unplanned shutdowns.

Before shutting down, Indian Point 2 reached two new milestones:

– The 24 months of operation since the last refueling was the most productive run for the plant, producing 16,786,307 megawatt hours

– Combined with Indian Point 3, the reactor set a new station record for the longest dual-unit run under Entergy’s ownership.

During the maintenance and refueling outage, Bentley said, work crews will perform preventive maintenance on one of three low-pressure turbines, inspect the main turbine control system, replace steam piping around two condensers and modify the containment sump, as well as replacing one-third of the fuel in the reactor.”

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