Entergy must replace transformer at Indian Point 3 after fire

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) will have to replace a transformer that was damaged by fire at the Indian Point 3 nuclear plant in Buchanan, N.Y., a company spokesperson confirmed May 13.

“The transformer has to be replaced and we have a spare onsite,” an Entergy spokesperson said in an email response to GenerationHub.

Indian Point 3 remains offline following a transformer fire on the non-nuclear side of the plant May 9. Indian Point 2 was unaffected by the accident and remains operating at full power.

Entergy has said that the transformer involved in the fire was less than 10 years old. The Entergy spokesman did not specify how long the nuclear unit might be out of service. An article in the New York Times indicated that it could be weeks before the unit resumes operation.

In a news release, Entergy said that it is working alongside federal and state environmental protection officials, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, to monitor the Hudson River and take any necessary actions to mitigate potential impacts to the river and the surrounding community.

“We take our commitment to the environment seriously, and any potential spill of transformer oil into the environment is not in accordance with our standards,” said Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, which is responsible for the company’s merchant nuclear plants in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Michigan. “Onsite personnel moved aggressively to mitigate any potential condition and began an analysis of the failure.”

Entergy and its contractors swiftly responded Saturday night May 9 and placed protective oil booms in the plant’s discharge canal and river to capture and mitigate fluid from reaching the river.

Teams were also dispatched to begin monitoring for any fluid that may have reached the river.

“I want to thank all of those who have worked around the clock to perform this important task, and ensure our local communities that we are investigating how this happened and will take steps to ensure it does not happen again,” Mohl said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who opposes a 20-year license extension for Indian Point Units 2 and 3, initially said an “oil spill” resulted from the transformer fire.

Entergy officials, meanwhile, have said it is far from certain that any significant amount of oil leaked into the Hudson River. Fire-suppression foam might account for much of the substance that leaked into the river officials have said.

“Beneath the transformer is a protective moat system designed to collect fluid that leaks during a failure,” the Entergy spokesperson said. “Workers continue to pump out that moat. We have an obligation to be as precise as possible before estimating what may or may not have been released to the water. Entergy takes all potential environmental issues very seriously, which is why we took immediate action to put protections in place on the river following this event,” according to the company spokesperson.

The incident is sure to harden opposition to continued operation of the Indian Point reactors by environmental groups such as Riverkeeper. “The May 9 transformer fire at the Indian Point nuclear power plant – its third in the past eight years – appears to have resulted in an oil spill that could impact the health of the Hudson River and demonstrates why Indian Point must close,” Riverkeeper said in a May 10 news release.

Indian Point Units 2 and 3 are both pressurized water reactors (PWRs) located in West Chester County, N.Y., roughly an hour’s drive from New York City. Each unit is listed with a generating capacity of more than 1,000 MW.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.