Scope of Indian Point 3 spill estimated at 3,000 gallons

It currently appears that roughly 3,000 gallons of dielectric fluid leaked into the Hudson River following a transformer fire May 9 fire at the Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Indian Point 3 nuclear unit in Buchanan, N.Y.

The preliminary estimate comes from the U.S. Coast Guard, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Entergy said May 22.

Entergy again said that visual observations in the discharge canal and the Hudson River have not indicated significant quantities of transformer oil. The transformer oil from the failed transformer did not contain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Further investigation and aggressive recovery efforts at the site will continue.

“In the meantime, engineers are working diligently to restore Indian Point unit 3 to continued safe, reliable operations and are in the process of installing a replacement transformer,” Entergy said in a statement. “Unit 2 continues to operate at full power and has been online for 430 continuous days.”

Entergy sets up hotline for spill information

Entergy established a telephone hotline and email this week for members of the public to share information about sightings of transformer dielectric fluid. Potential sightings of the fluid can be reported to 1-800-472-6372 or sent to environment@safesecurevital.com.

The failed transformer held approximately 24,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, which acts as an electrical insulator and coolant inside transformers when they are operational.

Environmental personnel have conducted assessments of approximately 25 locations based on Entergy, Coast Guard and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) observations regarding potential oil sheens in the Hudson River and have implemented the appropriate mitigation efforts at their direction at a handful of those sites.

Entergy continues to investigate the cause of the transformer failure and intends to announce its preliminary understanding on the cause of the transformer failure by the end of June.

The failed transformer is located outdoors in the transformer yard and external to any buildings that contain radioactive materials. There was no damage to plant equipment other than the transformer, no personnel injuries, and no release of radiation due to this event, Entergy has said.

Units 2 and 3 are in the midst of a protracted and contested license renewal case before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Critics such as the Riverkeeper organization have used the recent fire-and-spill as another example of why the nuclear units should not get a 20-year license extension.

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.