By Michael P. Norton STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
February 7, 2017
A seawater leak at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has prompted plant operators to sharply reduce energy output there.
Control room operators reduced power to about 50 percent on Monday afternoon, Feb. 6, after there was an indication of a leakage into the Plymouth plant’s condenser.
A power plant spokesman told the News Service on Tuesday morning that the plant is now operating at 28 percent while repair work is undertaken.
Entergy Pilgrim Station spokesman Patrick O’Brien did not have an estimate of how much seawater leaked into the plant’s condenser.
“There is no challenge to worker or public health or safety and no radiologial release occurred as a result of this brief leak,” he said in a statement. “The reduction in power enabled operators to isolate the leakage so workers can make repairs. Restoration of full power will follow the repair.”
Pilgrim experienced a similar seawater intrusion last year, O’Brien said.
After a final planned refueling the plant this year, Pilgrim owner Entergy plans to shut the plant down in 2019.
Critics of the plant point to repeated problems there that have necessitated shutdowns as proof that the plant should close now. Pilgrim officials say the plant is safe and have repeated over the years that the safety of the public and plant staff has not been put at risk.
The coastal power plant closed down for a week in December to repair a steam leak.
The plant was also in the news recently after media outlets obtained an internal Nuclear Regulatory Commission email documenting safety concerns found at the plant during an NRC inspection in December.
[See http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2016/12/8/misdirected-nrc-email-reveals-overwhelmed-safety-workforce-a.html ]
The email detailed “poor maintenance, poor engineering practices, and equipment reliability problems” at the plant, which can produce 680 megawatts of power using its boiling water reactor.