High reactor water level prompts shutdown at Entergy’s Pilgrim plant

The Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Massachusetts experienced an unplanned outage on Sept. 6 after a high water level was detected in the reactor, according to a report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 0827 [EDT], with the reactor at 91% core thermal power (CTP), Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS) operators initiated a manual reactor scram due to high reactor water level resulting from feed water level control oscillation,” according to the report filed with NRC. “Other than the feed water level control oscillations, all other plant systems responded as designed.”

The cause of the feed water level control oscillations is under investigation.

During the past year, NRC has earmarked Pilgrim for increased regulatory oversight. At Pilgrim, Entergy finds itself in the position of trying to improve day-to-day performance at the 675-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) that it plans to retire in the first half of 2019.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG)(PSEG) Salem Unit 2 in New Jersey has resumed operation, listed at 60% power generation early Sept. 7, according to NRC data. Salem Unit 2 went offline Aug. 31 as a result of an electrical fault with a power cable to one of the four reactor coolant pumps.

In addition to Pilgrim, reactor units listed at zero power early Sept. 7 included the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Wolf Creek plant in Kansas and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Watts Bar 2 plant in Tennessee.

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.