The Seabrook Station nuclear power plant’s reactor shut down this week because of a malfunction in the plant’s turbine.
The shutdown is not causing a threat to safety or service, officials said.
The turbine, which is spun by steam from ocean water heated by the nuclear reactor to generate electricity, stopped turning shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesperson Neil Sheehan. The cause of the shutdown for the Seabrook, NH, reactor remains unknown, he said. He could not say when the plant would go back online.
The turbine’s malfunction triggered the reactor to shut down, Sheehan said, adding the design of the reactor calls for it to automatically turn off in the event the turbine stops turning because the reactor has no purpose for generating steam if the turbine cannot spin to create electricity.
Officials said the reactor’s shutdown poses no safety threat. Employees of NextEra Energy Seabrook, the company that owns the plant, are still at work preparing for the reactor to go back online, Sheehan said.
“The plant is in a safe, shutdown condition,” said NextEra Energy Seabrook spokesman Alan Griffith. “There were no safety issues with the shutdown.”
Griffith added a “complete and thorough analysis is being conducted on the exact cause of the shutdown.”
No electricity was lost as a result of the reactor’s shutdown, as Sheehan said the energy grid’s operator, ISO New England, has several reserve options for energy. He said reserves have allowed other plants to turn off for long periods of time without service interruption, in some cases for more than a year.
“There have been plants down for extended periods of time that, you wouldn’t even notice there was an issue,” Sheehan said.