The nation's oldest nuclear plant declared an alert and a second plant just 40 miles from New York City was forced to shut down power as five different nuke plants in Hurricane Sandy's path experienced problems during the storm.
Indian Point in Buchanan, New York, on the Hudson River north of New York City, automatically shut power to its unit 3 on Monday night "as a result of an electrical grid disturbance," according to Entergy, the plant's operator.
The connection between the generator and the offsite grid was lost, and the unit is designed to shut down to protect itself from electrical damage. Entergy said there was no release of radioactivity, no damage to equipment, and no threat to the public health.
"At Indian Point yesterday the river level and wind had no impact on plant operation," said a spokesman. Another unit at the plant continues to operate, and the company expects unit 3 to return to service within days.
Operators also declared an alert at the nation's oldest nuclear plant, Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, New Jersey, on Monday evening after the center of Sandy made landfall, "due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant's water intake structure."
The alert level is the "the second lowest of four action levels," as defined by the NRC.
"Water level is rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge," the NRC said Monday. "It is anticipated water levels will begin to abate within the next several hours."
Exelon Corporation, the owner of the plant, said in a statement that there was "no threat to the public health or safety" from the situation.
The plant also lost power, which is critical to keep spent fuel rods from overheating, but "the station's two backup diesel generators activated immediately," and it has two weeks of diesel fuel on site, Exelon said.
A reactor at an Exelon facility outside Philadelphia, Limerick Generating Station, was ramped down to 91 percent power after Sandy caused a problem with its condenser.
A unit at a fourth plant 43 miles from Philadelphia, Salem Nuclear Power Plant on Delaware Bay in southern New Jersey, was manually shut down just after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning "when four of the station's six circulating water pumps were no longer available due to weather impacts from Hurricane Sandy," according to plant co-owner PSEG Nuclear.
"No issues were encountered during the Salem Unit 1 shutdown," said PSEG Nuclear, "and the plant is currently stable. In addition to the operating crews onsite, Salem has designated response teams available."
At the Nine Mile Point plant near Oswego, New York, in what operators say "is likely a storm-related event," unit 1 shut down automatically around 9 p.m. Monday because of an electrical fault, while unit 2 experienced a power loss from an incoming power line because of the same fault. An emergency diesel generator started automatically to supply power to unit 2. The NRC said that the operators are still evaluating the cause of the event. "All plant safety systems responded as designed and the shutdown was safely carried out," said the NRC. Nine Mile Point is owned by CENG, a joint venture of Exelon and a French power company.
ABC News' Brian Hartman contributed to this report.
The 24 hours following Sandy's landfall brought widespread blackouts and conditions that resulted in shutdowns at three reactors, as well as the continuation of an alert at Oyster Creek.
Of 34 reactors in the regions reached by the storm, the Nuclear Energy Institute noted that 24 continued to generate power throughout the event, while a further seven were in scheduled outages. The reactors most affected by the storm remained in safe condition Tuesday.
An alert declared Monday night at Exelon's New Jersey nuclear plant continued into the following day as the water level slowly receded from the plant's intake structure. The unit had been shut down for service before the storm. According to an event report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "The site also experienced a loss of offsite power event concurrent with the additional water level increase. Both emergency diesel generators started and are supplying power to the emergency electrical busses."
An update just after 4 a.m., Tuesday, added that, "This event caused a valid [reactor protection system] actuation with automatic containment isolations that resulted in a temporary loss of shut-down cooling to the reactor. Shutdown cooling was subsequently restored with power provided by the emergency diesel generators."
An Exelon spokesman told the New York Times Tuesday that no water had flooded into the plant.
Unit 3 shut down automatically from full power a 10:41 p.m., Monday, after a turbine trip, according to an NRC event report. In a release, Entergy said the trip was caused by a grid disturbance, and no damage resulted at the plant. Unit 2 continued to operate at full power.
Nine Mile Point
Unit 1 tripped at about 9 p.m., which Constellation Energy suspected was caused by generator load reject. The high pressure coolant injection system initiated automatically. It and other safety systems functioned as designed, according to an NRC event report, and three electromatic relief valves actuated and reclosed because of the scram.
Unit 2 continued to operate at full power after losing one of its 115kv power lines. According to an NRC event report, it went down "due to a lightening arrestor falling onto electrical components in the Scriba switchyard during high winds."
One emergency diesel generator provided backup power before the line was restored, about six hours later at 3:26 a.m., Tuesday, according to the report.
Operators manually shut down unit 1 from full power after the loss of four condenser circulators affected by high water levels and debris. According to an NRC event report, "A subsequent loss of the 2 remaining circulators required transition of decay heat removal from condenser steam dumps to the 11-14 MS10s (atmospheric steam dump). Decay heat removal is from the 11/12 Aux Feed Pumps to all 4 steam generators via the 11-14 MS10s ... All safety related equipment functioned as expected."
Thanks Lewis. All good. I will also bet the post reviews will come up with even better ideas for safety. That's what we do...continually improve. I would also guess the new AP100's would not have missed a beat. T
Sentiment: Strong Buy