River debris is slowing down the Salem 1 reactor in New Jersey because water intake pipes are clogging up, Public Service Enterprise Group officials said.
The 1,174-megawatt Unit 1 is operating at 44 percent of capacity, down from 94 percent on Sept. 9, as the plant draws in less from the Delaware River to condense steam produced by the reactor back into water, Joe Delmar, a spokesman for Public Service. Last week, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee caused flooding in rivers across the Northeast after Hurricane Irene passed through.
“We are going to monitor the river debris levels as well as the tide cycles — it’s worse at low tide — before we come back up in power,” Delmar said. “We continue to swap out different parts of the intake system and clean out different trains. We have large intake screens that catch the debris.”
The 1,130-megawatt Salem 2 and the 1,061-megawatt Hope Creek 1, two other units at the plant about 18 miles south of Wilmington, Delaware, are generating at full power, he said.
Clog trouble is usually worse in the spring thaw and runoff as grass and debris collects in the marshy area where the intake pipes for Unit 1 are located, he said. Unit 2 is not as affected because of the location of its pipes, while Hope Creek has a cooling tower that uses less water, he said.