There was a small fire today on a cable at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County. The incident is under investigation and no operations at the plant were impacted.
Indian Point parent Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi says there was an electrical fault on a cable at Indian Point 2.
“Plant personnel observed an electrical line that had an electrical fault on it this morning. There was a small fire that pretty much went out as quickly as it developed,” Nappi says. “So we have a fire department on site but they did not have to extinguish it. The fire just went out quickly, within a few seconds.”
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Spokesman Neil Sheehan says the small fire happened around 8:40 Tuesday morning.
“In fact, our resident inspectors heard the loud noise when this bushing failed. So this is an insulator on one of the power lines,” Sheehan says. “Nuclear power plants not only send power out onto the grid, they take power back for their operational purposes. At Indian Point, they have one line, it’s a 138-kilovolt line, that runs between the two units, between Units 2 and 3, it’s a crosstie line that if they ever needed to tap into, they could. In any case, they heard this bushing fail and a small fire occurred afterwards.”
He says it’s just a matter of repairs at this point. Power did not have to be reduced at either reactor and no operations were impacted. Cliff Weathers is spokesman for environmental group Riverkeeper, which has long wanted Indian Point shut down.
“It’s just the latest incident one of more than two dozen incidents that there have been in the last couple of years. We’re talking about fires, explosions and all sorts of different equipment failures,” Weathers says. “This just shows that with problems on the nuclear and the non-nuclear side of the plant that there are continuing problems with Indian Point. And it’s even more evidence that this plant is no longer reliable and it needs to be shut down.”
Nappi says the line where the fire occurred is not associated with carrying electricity to any plant equipment related to safety.
“It’s a redundant line that would help bring power in from the grid if we lost power through the normal channels,” says Nappi. “So it’s just a redundant piece of equipment, so its failure really had no consequence on plant operation.”
The small fire was classified as an unusual event, the lowest of the NRC’s four emergency levels. Sheehan explains why.
“The reason this was declared as an unusual event is because this was described as an explosion in the protected area of the plant, the fenced-in area that contains all the really critical infrastructure for the plant, and that’s one of the criteria,” Sheehan says. “But they were able to exit it fairly quickly because they were able to extinguish the fire and move on from there.”
There were no injuries as a result of the incident and both Buchanan-based plants continue to operate at full power. Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year directed three state agencies to integrate their investigations into plant operations following various issues, including a tritium leak in February. The findings have not yet been issued.