Hundreds of “faulty” and “missing” bolts ended up discovered during a planned outage at Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, NY, and will keep a reactor shut down for several additional weeks.
A scheduled inspection at the Buchanan power plant of more than 2,000 bolts on the face of a removable insert liner in the plant’s Unit 2 reactor “revealed issues” with about 11 percent of the bolts, or 220, plant operator, Entergy, officials said.
The issues found included “missing bolts” and “other degradation requiring replacement of the bolts,” Entergy said.
The bolts, which are about 2 inches long and made of stainless steel, hold plate inserts together inside the reactor, Entergy said.
The newly discovered issues will add several weeks to the outage, Entergy said.
The issues found with the reactor’s insert liner did not have any impact on public health or safety, Entergy said. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), among other agencies, received notification.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has repeatedly criticized Indian Point’s safety record and called for the closure of the aging plant, said the discovery of “hundreds of faulty bolts” raised “deep concerns.
“This is the latest in a long series of incidents that raise deep concerns about the management, maintenance and equipment standards at this plant,” Cuomo said.
“While there is no immediate danger to public health and safety, this troubling news further validates the state’s ongoing investigation into the operations of this aging power plant and our position that it should not be relicensed,” he added.
Patricia Kakridas, a spokeswoman for Entergy, said the bolt problems were revealed during “a specialized, robust inspection” that went “beyond normal inspections performed during each refueling outage.”
“We will not operate the plants, nor would the NRC allow us to continue operating, if we couldn’t do so safely,” she said.
The bolt issues ended up discovered during the Indian Point Unit 2’s “Aging Management Program,” which is implemented once every 10 years in connection with the plant’s ongoing licensing renewal. The first inspection began on March 7 during a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.
Engineers conducted more than 350 inspections to equipment during the planned maintenance, Entergy said, including testing and inspections of the reactor containment area, the reactor vessel, the control rod mechanism, coolant pump motors and steam generators.
Entergy said the comprehensive inspections show that critical components at Unit 2 continue to perform safely and as intended.
“Safety is always our first priority, and the hundreds of inspections performed over the last few weeks demonstrate these programs work as designed,” said Larry Coyle, site vice president and Entergy’s top official at Indian Point. “Safeguards and automatic detection equipment are in place to alert plant operators of impacts on safe operations.”
Since 2007, Entergy has been seeking to extend its licenses for Indian Point’s two reactors, Units 2 and 3, for 20 more years. The nuclear power plant can continue to operate until the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission decides on its application, which can take several years.