Nuclear, Reactors, Reciprocating Engines

UPDATE 2: Superstorm Sandy causes shut downs, alerts at nuclear power plants

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says it is continuing to monitor impacts from Hurricane Sandy on nuclear power plants in the Northeastern U.S., including an alert declared at the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant, Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, N.J. The plant, which was already in a regularly scheduled outage, declared the alert at approximately 8:45 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29 due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure.

One of the units at Indian Point, which is about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down around 10:45 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29 due to external electrical grid issues, said Entergy Corp., which operates the plant.

PSEG Nuclear says it manually shutdown Salem Unit 1 in Hancocks Bridge, N.J. at 1:09 a.m. on Oct. 30 when four of the station’s six circulating water pumps were no longer available due to high river level and debris in the waterway from Hurricane Sandy. The circulating water pumps use Delaware Bay/River water to condense steam on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

Unit 1 at Nine Mile Point in New York underwent an automatic shutdown around 9 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29 when an electrical fault occurred on power lines used to send power to the grid. Unit 2 experienced a loss of one of two incoming off-site power lines as a result of the fault and one of the emergency diesel generators started in response. The reactor remained at full power.

Three power plants – Millstone 3 in Connecticut; Vermont Yankee in Vermont and Limerick in Pennsylvania, reduced power in advance of or in response to the storm. Millstone’s power was reduced to 70 percent before the storm hit, Vermont Yankee reduced power to 89 percent in response from the grid operator due to the loss of a transmission line in New Hampshire, and Unit 1 at Limerick was reduced to 50 percent power while Unit 2 was reduced to 25 percent in response to low electrical demands on the grid because of storm-related power outages.

The NRC says its inspectors are providing around the clock coverage at all of the plants that could experience effects of the storm. These include: Oyster Creek, Salem and Hope Creek, in Hancocks Bridge, N.J.; Calvert Cliffs, in Lusby, Md.; Limerick, in Limerick Township, Pa.; Peach Bottom, in Delta, Pa.; Three Mile Island, in Middletown, Pa.; Susquehanna, in Salem Township, Pa.; Indian Point, in Buchanan, N.Y.; and Millstone, in Waterford, Conn. Inspectors will independently verify that operators are following relevant procedures to ensure plant safety before, during and after the storm, according to the NRC.

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