Columbia nuclear plant in Washington state has unplanned outage

The Columbia nuclear power plant, operated by Energy Northwest in Richland, Washington, experienced an unplanned outage during the afternoon of March 28, according to an event report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“At 1322 PDT on Monday, March 28, 2016, Columbia Generating Station was manually scrammed from 100% thermal power due to the loss of Reactor Closed Cooling (RCC),” according to the event report. “Manual scram of the unit is procedurally required upon loss of RCC. The cause of the loss of RCC is being investigated.”

The facility was still listed at zero power early March 29.

The NRC event report goes on to say: “All control rods were fully inserted. Valve RWCU-V-4 automatically closed upon high water temperature due to loss of RCC flow. No other safety system actuations were reported. All systems operated as expected. Reactor decay heat is being removed via bypass valves to the Main Condenser. The station is in normal shutdown electrical lineup.”

Energy Northwest had said in February that the Columbia station had enjoyed a record-setting month in January. In January the nuclear energy facility sent 860,813 net megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to the Northwest power grid, eclipsing the previous record set in December (859,619 net MWh).

The generation figures are according to a Feb. 4 news release posted on the Energy Northwest website.

Columbia is a 1,200-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) that was commissioned in 1984, according to GenerationHub data.

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