Lightning storm caused near 5-hour shutdown at Waterford 3

NRC says public was not in danger

A lightning storm that caused a power surge at Waterford 3 initiated a near five-hour shutdown at the nuclear plant in Killona.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported the outage and four findings in a recent report based on a facility inspection.

NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said the outage did not endanger the public.

“All safety systems responded as expected and the reactor was safely shutdown,” Dricks said.

NRC inspectors reported the surge caused electrical arcing on a component of the plant, which warranted the shutdown on July 17. Although earlier reported by the media, he said a fire did not occur at the plant.

When the arcing occurred, Dricks said operators shut down the plant’s main generator that provided electricity and avoided fire. The move was supposed to re-establish power for needed systems from an off-site location, but he said that did not occur leaving the plant without power for 4-1/2 hours.

Entergy reported the outage, which he said rated at the NRC’s lowest level of nuclear emergency.

NRC’s inspection identified four findings: a problem with electronic circuitry that came with shutting down the main generator, failure to implement procedures that reduced the water level in the spent fuel pool, failure to demonstrate valves associated with the spent fuel cooling were effectively controlled through appropriate preventive maintenance and failure to perform periodic maintenance on the plant’s main transformer buses.

During the outage, the level of the pool that keeps the fuel cool fell 9 inches. Dricks said these findings “did not endanger the public health or safety.”

The findings rated as the lowest level of emergency with the NRC, he said.

“Entergy is addressing them through a correction action program,” Dricks said. If not complied with in a few months, Entergy could face enforcement action, Dricks said.

Entergy’s Mike Bowling said the company will take time “to fully understand and incorporate all their feedback. Entergy is fully committed to safe, secure and sustainable operations at Waterford 3, and we will continue to work with our regulators to ensure that goal.”

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