NRC starts special inspection following Indian Point 3 transformer fire

A team of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspectors will seek to better understand the presence of water in an electrical supply room at the Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Indian Point 3 nuclear power plant following a main transformer failure event at the site on May 9.

NRC said May 19 that it a three-member NRC team was immediately starting a special inspection at the facility in Buchanan, N.Y. The room in question contains electrical equipment that provides power to plant safety systems.

“None of the electrical equipment became wet or experienced any damage or failures as a result of the water,” NRC Region I Administrator Dan Dorman. “Nevertheless, the NRC inspectors will be tasked with gathering information on how the water accumulated in the room and the potential for impacts had there been a significantly larger volume of water.”

Entergy said recently that complete cleanup of the Hudson River could take several months following the transformer fire, which resulted in fluid leaking into the river. Entergy has said that it expects to identify a cause for the fire by June 30.

Indian Point 2 continues to run at full power.

At 5:50 p.m. on May 9th, with the plant operating at 100% power, one of its two main transformers experienced a failure, the cause of which is not yet known. The failure resulted in an automatic shutdown of the reactor that occurred without any complications. Plant operators declared an “Unusual Event” — the lowest of four levels of emergency classification used by the NRC — at 6:01 p.m. because of the fire that erupted following the transformer failure.

The Unusual Event was terminated at 9:03 p.m. after the fire was fully extinguished.

A fire suppression system for the transformer automatically doused the fire. In addition, the plant’s on-site fire brigade and off-site firefighters sprayed water and foam onto the transformer to help put out the fire. Among other things, the NRC inspectors will be reviewing whether those sources account for the water observed in the electrical equipment room.

A report summarizing the findings of the Special Inspection Team will be issued within 45 days after the conclusion of the inspection.

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.