A malfunctioning water pump forced the shutdown of Indian Point’s Unit 3 nuclear reactor on Wednesday.
Control room operators shut down the reactor around 2:30 p.m. after they found one of the unit’s condensate pumps automatically stopped while the unit was operating at full power, causing the steam generator’s water levels to fluctuate, according to power plant operator, Entergy. The Buchanan, NY-based reactor remained shut down Thursday morning.
Indian Point provides about 25 percent of the power used by Westchester County and New York City. The effect of the malfunction, one of at least two incidents in the last few months, was not immediately available.
“When our plant goes down unexpectedly, that’s the loss of a thousand megawatts that has to be made up somehow,” said Patricia Kakridas, a spokeswoman for Entergy. “We won’t know what the impact is, if there was an impact, until tomorrow.”
The condensate pumps, which are part of the system that feeds water into the plant’s steam generators, are away from the nuclear side of the plant, Entergy said.
Operators safely shut down the reactor, Entergy said, and all equipment responded properly. The shutdown did not affect Unit 2, which is still operating at full power.
The reactor remained shut down as of 8:45 p.m., Kakridas said. She said workers were busy determining what caused the pump to shut down. There was no timetable for when repairs would occur or when reactor would be operating again.
Wednesday’s shutdown was the latest incident at the power plant over the last few months.
In May about 3,000 gallons of oil seeped into the Hudson River after a transformer caught fire, automatically shutting down the Unit 3 generator. The mishap, which brought Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the scene, was the result of faulty insulation that caused a short circuit in a high-voltage coil.
Indian Point shut down in June after a large Mylar balloon ended up tangled in electrical wires leading to the Millwood substation south of the plant. Con Edison asked Indian Point operators to open an electrical breaker so workers could remove the balloon.