Nuclear reactor at Indian Point plant in N.Y. shut down again after leak found

BUCHANAN, N.Y., June 24 (UPI) — One of two reactor units at a nuclear power plant near New York City has been taken offline for the second time in four months after leakage was found in a pipe that pumps water into the facility, officials said Friday.

Reactor Unit 2 at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., was shut down Thursday after discovery of the malfunction. Officials said the leak was found in a non-radioactive part of the plant.

Reactor No. 2 was shut down — only a week after it had come back online — so that maintenance workers could weld the pipe, which carries water from the nearby Hudson River to the plant.

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“There is no ongoing leak and there was no challenge to safety,” Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, said.

Plant officials said workers with New York utility company Consolidated Edison, which formerly owned and operated Unit 2, will also test a breaker while the reactor is offline.

Officials said the leak was small, about one drop of water every five seconds.

The shutdown is the second for Unit 2 since March, when inspectors ordered the reactor offline after finding nearly 300 damaged or cracked bolts during a “refueling outage” — a process that occurs once every two years. That closure lasted for three months, and the reactor went back online June 16.

Unit 2 has been active since 1974 but recurring problems have spurred calls from public officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for the plant’s permanent closure.

“I am very concerned that the Indian Power nuclear power reactor is, more than ever before, a catastrophe waiting to happen,” Sanders said in April. “In my view, we cannot sit idly by and hope that the unthinkable will never happen. We must take action to shut this plant down in a safe and responsible way.”

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“The unexpected shutdown of the reactor at Indian Point 2 because of a weld leak is just the latest example of the repeated and continuing problems at the plant,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday. “In the last year alone, there has been unprecedented degradation of Indian Point Unit 2 baffle-former bolts, groundwater contamination, and increased NRC oversight at Unit 3 due to numerous unplanned shutdowns. This is yet another sign that the aging and wearing away of important components at the facility are having a direct and unacceptable impact on safety, and is further proof that the plant is not a reliable generation resource.”

Unit 2 generates about 1,000 megawatts — enough electricity for about 1 million homes in this area, Entergy said. The other reactor, Unit 3, is operating at full power and has been online continuously for 191 days.

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