THOMAS C. ZAMBITO | ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER JOURNAL NEWS | 2:31 pm EDT March 18, 2019
￼• Indian Point’s Unit 2 shut down Friday after a malfunction in an electric generator
• Unit 3 was already shutdown for its last refueling before it shuts down in 2021
• This is the first time in recent years that both reactors have been down at the same time
Indian Point has failed to generate power in three days, following a malfunction in one of the nuclear plant’s reactors Friday that forced a shutdown, the Journal News and lohud.com has learned.
Federal safety regulators say Unit 2’s unexpected shutdown was caused by a malfunction in an electric generator.
This is not the first time both reactors were without power at the same time but it is the first time in recent years.
The Indian Point Energy Center nuclear power plant in Buchanan
PETER CARR/THE JOURNAL NEWS
The shutdown, also called a scram, occurred while Unit 2’s sister reactor, Unit 3, had already been powered down for its 20th and final refueling before it shuts off for good in April 2021.
State officials say the shutdowns have not impacted the state’s power supply.
Work to replace the fuel rods at Indian Point 3 as well as the replacement, refurbishment and testing of equipment is underway as part of routine maintenance of the nuclear reactor in Buchanan on Mar. 20, 2017.
RICKY FLORES/THE JOURNAL NEWS
Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, alerted the state Department of Public Service about the situation and the department is monitoring the issue.
“At this time, the Department does not have any concerns about the facility’s safety,” spokesman James Denn said. “There is also no impact on the reliability of New York’s power system.”
The reactors generate electricity for homes, businesses and public facilities in Westchester County and New York City
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s resident inspectors for Indian Point were summoned to Unit 2’s control room around 3 p.m., Friday, after being alerted that there had been a shutdown.
No immediate safety concerns were identified. Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, was trying to fix the problem Monday.
“Entergy is troubleshooting the exact cause of the scram, which may have been caused by a fault in the main electric generator,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “Our Resident Inspectors will continue to follow up on those assessments.”
Unit 3 was shut down twice in September following a water leak in a backup cooling system and a steam leak discovered on the non-nuclear side of the building. Entergy said neither leak led to a release of radiation and public safety was never threatened.
Unit 3 was shut down March 11 as workers began removing spent fuel so they could begin adding enough fuel to power the reactor through 2021.
Refuelings or outages take place every two years in March, a time of year when electricity demand is at its lowest, ahead of the summer months when air conditioners run around the clock.
Entergy invested $70 million in the effort, which brings some 900 out-of-state workers into the lower Hudson Valley for several weeks while they assist Entergy’s 1,000-person workforce at the Buchanan plant.
In addition to replacing fuel, workers will replace pumps and motors and perform maintenance on diesel generators.
In January 2017, Entergy announced its intention to close, citing market pressures caused by the low price of natural gas as well as protracted litigation with the state of New York. Unit 2 will be shut down next year.
The shutdown is expected to have a lingering impact on Buchanan, the town of Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District, which rely heavily on the plant’s property tax revenues to balance their budgets from year to year.
Tony Vitale, an Entergy vice president and the company’s top-ranking executive at Indian Point, said the company continues to invest in plant safety and reliability.
“Our dedicated employees, whether they have worked at the site for four years or 40 years, are focused on making the last refueling our best ever,” Vitale said. “The nearly 60-year history of safe and reliable operations at the site is our legacy.”