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Nuclear steam leak intentional: Response to Indian Point plant shutdown

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Author Topic: Nuclear steam leak intentional: Response to Indian Point plant shutdown  (Read 381 times)
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« on: November 08, 2010, 07:30:58 am »


Nuclear steam leak intentional: Response to Indian Point plant shutdown

BY Abby Luby

Friday, January 8th 2010, 4:00 AM

The recent shutdown at the Indian Point Nuclear power plant and release of contaminated steam into the atmosphere was intentional, the federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear power plants insisted Thursday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said the release valves "were intentionally opened (as per plant procedures) as part of the shutdown."

The steam went undetected for two two days in November from Unit 2 at the Westchester-based nuke plant.

NRC inspectors at Indian Point later learned that an estimated 600,000 gallons of boiling, radioactive water turned to steam and was released over the lower Hudson Valley.

Sheehan explained that boiling, radioactive water did not flash into steam as it exited the valves and hit the air, but rather that the valves first reduced pressure in the form of steam created in the steam generators.

"The boiling has already occurred in the steam generators before the steam ever reaches the atmospheric steam dump valves," he said.

A Daily News investigation confirmed that the steam dump valves were intentionally opened because of a problem in the generator at Indian Point that caused the plant to shut down.

But it also found the valve didn't close when it was supposed to and kept releasing steam into the environment.

NRC inspectors are still trying to figure out what really happened. A report on the incident is expected at the end of the month.

Because a radioactive steam cloud is difficult to see, the massive amount of steam was verified by a NRC inspector at the plant.

Sheehan stressed that the level of a radioactive isotope tritium in the steam was below the allowable federal levels for drinking water. The News, however, has reported that the release of tritium was not in drinking water but airborne in escaped steam which is inhaled through the lungs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have safe levels set for inhaling tritium. The NRC uses the drinking water levels whenever radiated water is dumped into the Hudson River or when it threatens to contaminate ground water.[/i][/color]

Entergy, the owner of the Indian Point, files annual reports about radioactivity regularly released into the air and water.

But The News found the reports are published too long after the fact and mired in technological jargon, unlike timely news stories that inform the general public.

Sheehan responded that "The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission takes seriously its mission of protecting people and the environment. Part of that mission is assessing the significance of events and responding accordingly."[/
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2010, 08:29:20 am »


Transformer explodes at NY nuke plant; no one hurt
By CRISTIAN SALAZAR Associated Press © 2010 The Associated Press
Nov. 7, 2010, 11:21PM

NEW YORK — A transformer exploded at the Indian Point nuclear power plant Sunday night, leading to an automatic emergency shutdown of one of its reactors, authorities said. No one was injured and no radioactive materials leaked.

The explosion happened after 6:30 p.m. and triggered an alert at one of the plant's two main electrical transformers, said officials with Entergy Corp., the plant's owner. An alert is the second-lowest of four classification levels for emergency events.

The alert ended at around 10:20 p.m., but workers would continue to monitor the transformer, Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said.

The affected reactor, Indian Point 2, would remain offline until investigators determined the cause of the explosion, Steets said. The reactor began operating in 1973 and generates about 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

The plant's other main reactor, Indian Point 3, was operating normally, he said. Indian Point 1 was shut down in 1974 because the emergency core cooling system failed to meet regulatory requirements.

It was the second shutdown within the hour at an Entergy-owned plant.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., shut down at about 7 p.m. after workers detected radioactive water seeping from a leaky pipe in the complex.

The cause of that leak wasn't immediately known. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the public wasn't in danger.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan called the two shutdowns "complete coincidence."

He said the risk of a radiological emergency at Indian Point were mitigated by the transformer being located outdoors on the power production side of the plant, not the nuclear side.

The plant's fire brigade responded but did not report any flames, Sheehan said. Foam was sprayed as a precaution to prevent flare-ups.

The Indian Point plant is located in Buchanan, about 25 miles north of New York City.

In 2007, a transformer failure and fire led to the unplanned shutdown of Indian Point 3.

Vt. reactor shuts down after leak

Updated: Sunday, 07 Nov 2010, 9:03 PM EST
Published : Sunday, 07 Nov 2010, 9:03 PM EST

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -  The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has begun an unscheduled shutdown so technicians can fix a leak where radioactive water is seeping from a pipe leading to the reactor.

Plant spokesman Larry Smith said the reactor was taken out of service about 7 p.m. Sunday. He said it will take about 13 hours for the reactor to cool down enough for technicians to enter the area where the repair needs to be made.

The leak spotted earlier Sunday is coming from a pipe 24 inches in diameter, and is not seeping outside the complex into the environment. Smith said there's no threat to public health or safety.

The plant provides electricity to the New England Power Grid. The shutdown is not expected to affect electric services.
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