Valve Problem Prompts Pilgrim Shutdown


PLYMOUTH – The Pilgrim nuclear power plant experienced an automatic shutdown Friday afternoon.

The so-called scram happened just after 12 p.m. when a feedwater regulating valve unexpectedly closed.

That resulted in a drop in reactor water level and the reactor protection system initiating the scram.

The safety measure inserts all control rods into the nuclear core to halt the fissioning process. 

According to a statement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, all reactor safety systems functioned as designed and the shutdown was carried out without complications.

The plant is in a safe and stable condition.

Plant Spokesman Patrick O’Brien issued the following statement on the shutdown:

At 12:09 PM on Friday, October 5, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station experienced an automatic shutdown (SCRAM) due to an anomaly with the Feedwater Regulating Valve, which controls water to the reactor in the process of making steam. The plant is in a safe condition  with all control rods inserted into the reactor, as designed. There was no impact to the health and safety of our staff, the public, or the environment as a result of this event. During this outage we will also perform maintenance that we could otherwise not perform with the plant online. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) has been notified, as have key officials in the Commonwealth. The exact date the plant expects to restart is not known at this time and is business sensitive information.

The NRC Resident Inspectors assigned to Pilgrim on a full-time basis responded to the event to independently verify plant conditions and to observe operators’ actions.

According to the NRC, they did not identify any immediate safety concerns.

There was no immediate word on when the reactor will be restarted. The plant is scheduled to permanently close next June.

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