NRC is sending a Special Inspection Team to Plymouth on Monday, Feb. 2nd, to review the circumstances surrounding Pilgrim’s unplanned reactor shutdown that occurred on Jan. 27 during Winter Storm “Juno.” Pilgrim was forced to shutdown around 4:00AM on Jan. 27th after it loss offsite power and a variety of other problems occurred.
The special NRC inspection team, comprising of 4-5 technical staffers, will review Entergy’s response to Pilgrim’s equipment problems that occurred following the reactor shutdown (also called a “scram”), and while the plant was going to cold shutdown. Pilgrim went into “cold shutdown” around 4:30PM on the 27th.
Cold shutdown can take up to 48 hours to complete. It is a term typically used when a reactor is shutdown temporarily for refueling (or due to a problem, like what happened during Juno) or when a reactor is shutdown for the last time before decommissioning. When a cold shutdown has occurred, the reactor pressure vessel can be opened safely and water can be added to the cavity for shielding the radiation, say if workers need to handle the fuel during refueling (replacing fuel) or defueling (removing the entire core).
The NRC inspection team will be at the Pilgrim site for probably one week, starting on Monday Feb. 2nd. The inspection could carry out even longer depending on how the first goes and whether they are satisfied that they gathered all the information they need.
Stay tuned for more information from the NRC on Monday.
Additional articles and information:
- Nuclear Power Industry News, Feb. 3, 2105. Exelon Unfazed By Juno; NRC To Look Into Pilgrim Shutdown
- Cape Cod Times, Feb. 4, 2015. My View: More bad news for Pilgrim nuke plant
- Union of Concerned Scientists, Feb. 3, 2015. UCS Backgrounder on Pilgrim’s January 27, 2015 Event