Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station shut down Tuesday because of a “steam leak on a valve, which provides sealing steam to the main turbine.”
The leak, which is not nuclear safety related, required the company to shut down the reactor in order to make repairs according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
NRC Resident Inspectors monitored the shutdown and will observe the repair work.
Also, during a tabletop emergency drill Tuesday, workers found a problem in the plant’s internal conferencing bridge lines. Workers established additional communication lines until they resolve the computer server problem.
Pilgrim has had a difficult time this past year with a series of unplanned shutdowns which is forcing federal officials to monitor the plant’s performance more closely.
Before this incident, Pilgrim, owned by Entergy Nuclear and located in Plymouth, MA, had two shutdowns with complications so far this year, according to the NRC’s third quarter performance reports for the nation’s 100 nuclear power plants. Such shutdowns should be extremely rare, according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan. The maximum allowed by the NRC in a year is one.
Pilgrim will receive “an increased level of oversight,” Sheehan said. An NRC inspection team will visit the plant and scrutinize the root cause for recent problems.
Pilgrim is also walking a fine line for unplanned shutdowns in general. A company can have no more than three in a 7,000-hour period of operation. When the third quarter ended, the plant was at 2.9. That number did not include the Oct. 14 unplanned shutdown, which will be a part of the fourth quarter report.