BUCHANAN, N.Y. – Part of a New York state nuclear power plant surrounded by about 20 million residents remained shut down Sunday after a transformer fire.
The transformer at the Indian Point 3 plant about 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan failed on Saturday evening, causing a fire that forced the automatic shutdown.
The fire on the non-nuclear side of the plant was quickly extinguished and the reactor was deemed safe and stable, said a spokesman for owner Entergy Corp.
On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo planned a noon briefing at the site to address how the emergency was handled, and if anything could have been done better. The governor said the fire had caused oil to leak that could possibly spill into the Hudson River, but crews were working containing it.
“These situations we take very seriously. Luckily this was not a major situation. But the emergency protocols are very important,” Cuomo said Saturday. “I take nothing lightly when it comes to this plant specifically.”
On Sunday, the plant was still closed while experts investigate the incident, said Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The transformer at Indian Point 3 takes energy created by the plant and changes the voltage for the grid supplying power to the state. The blaze, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky, was extinguished by a sprinkler system and on-site personnel, Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said. Westchester County police and fire were on site as a precaution.
It was not immediately clear what caused the failure, or whether the transformer would be repaired or replaced. Nappi said there were no health or safety risks.
Officials did not know how long the 1,000-megawatt reactor would be down. Entergy is investigating the failure.
The plant’s adjacent Unit 2 reactor was not affected.
The Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County.
In accordance with federal regulations, the NRC, plus state, county and local officials were notified of the event, considered the lowest of four emergency classifications for U.S. nuclear plants.
Cuomo said there had been too many emergencies recently involving Indian Point. Unit 3 was shut down Thursday morning for an unrelated issue — a water leak on the non-nuclear side of the plant. It was repaired and there was no radioactive release, Nappi said. In March, Unit 3 was shut down for a planned refuelling that took about a month.
Screnci, the NRC spokeswoman, said an agency inspector was at the site Sunday and the agency would follow up as Indian Point troubleshoots and assesses the affected equipment.
She said there was no impact on the public, and it was not out of the ordinary for a transformer to have a problem.