U.S. NRC Blog

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Indian Point Transformer Fire

Diane Screnci
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Region I

NRC inspectors are following up on a transformer fire at Indian Point Energy Center over the weekend. The NRC Resident Inspectors for Indian Point – who work at the plant on a daily basis – are monitoring activities at the site while plant workers are troubleshooting and looking for the cause of the fire on the Unit 3 main transformer.

The transformer fire happened at about 6 p.m. on Saturday night. A sprinkler system initially extinguished the flames, but it reignited and was put out by the onsite fire brigade and local fire departments. The fire caused the reactor to automatically shut down, as designed. All safety systems worked as designed. There was no danger to the public and no release of radiation. The reactor is stable. Unit 2 continues to operate at full power.

Plant operators declared an “unusual event” – the lowest of the emergency classifications – in accordance with plant procedures. All plants have procedures, approved by the NRC, that dictate how events are classified to ensure appropriate steps are taken to respond to the event and to communicate the event to local and state agencies and the NRC.

In addition to cooling provided by fans, the main transformer is also cooled by oil flowing through it. On Saturday, oil from the transformer spilled into the plant’s discharge canal. Entergy has been working to determine how much oil was spilled.

The transformer that failed carries electricity from the main generator to the electrical grid. The same type of equipment can be found at any plant that generates electricity. It is on the electrical generation side of the plant – not the nuclear side.

As far as next steps go, plant employees will determine what happened and why. They will repair or replace any equipment that was damaged in the fire. The plant can restart when ready. NRC inspectors will be monitoring Entergy’s actions every step of the way, ensuring workers are taking all appropriate actions.

As we do with any event at a plant, we’ll continue to review what happened and how the plant responded. If need be, we’ll send additional inspectors to the site to look further into the event and its effects.

41 responses to “Indian Point Transformer Fire

  1. drbillcorcoran May 22, 2015 at 11:27 am

    For a shallow depth RCA see
    http://root-cause-analysis.info/2015/05/21/indian-point-fire-and-oil-leak/

    Would the inspectors even read something like this?

  2. drbillcorcoran May 19, 2015 at 11:54 am

    The Kitty Litter Principle applies: If you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find the lumps.

    The current set of blunders could relate to superficial digging in response to past blunders.

    See also
    https://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2015/05/19/nrc-inspectors-head-to-indian-point-3s-electrical-supply-room/comment-page-1/#comment-1571909

  3. drbillcorcoran May 18, 2015 at 11:37 am

    If there are any NRC requirements, which, had they been adhered to, would have prevented the actual discharge to the river the way it happened, then noncompliance with them was a cause of the discharge.

    These requirements could involve the care of the transformer, the care of the berm/moat, the root cause analyses of earlier events here, and/or the handling of industry operating experience and industry “standards.”

    This should be a line of inquiry.

  4. drbillcorcoran May 18, 2015 at 9:43 am

    There is an active LinkedIn discussion that explores other concerns at
    https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/2211620-6005015702946275329

  5. drbillcorcoran May 16, 2015 at 5:31 am

    A colleague posted elsewhere:

    While the oil leak is embarrassing, to me the bigger issue is the transformer failure. To be honest, I don’t care about the oil in the Hudson. The oil spill shouldn’t have happened, and needs to be investigated, but the oil can be cleaned up. It’s not the significant issue though.

    This isn’t a recent problem of aging transformers. Many relatively new transformers (like this one) have failed. INPO issued Significant Operating Experience Report SOER 02-3 “Large Power Transformer Reliability” in 2002, but the industry continues to have significant issues in 2015. I’m sure that you know that SOERs are rare because they deal with “significant” issues. This isn’t just a large power transformer issue. Many plants have had lower voltage transformers fail, resulting in a fire and declaration of an Alert. I’m not sure why EPRI hasn’t addressed this. This is not only embarrassing to the industry, this is a safety concern since an Unplanned Scram or loss of a safety bus challenges safety systems.

  6. drbillcorcoran May 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Please list all of the NRC requirements, which, had they been adhered to, would have prevented the actual discharge to the river the way it happened?

    • David Andersen May 15, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      As the moderator stated elsewhere, oil discharges to bodies of water af under the purview of the New York Department of Environmental Quality and apply not only to nuclear plants but at any generating facility using oil filled transformers.

      • drbillcorcoran May 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm

        The question is still relevant and valid.

        Please list all of the NRC requirements, which, had they been adhered to, would have prevented the actual discharge to the river the way it happened?

      • drbillcorcoran May 15, 2015 at 2:05 pm

        If there are any NRC requirements, which, had they been adhered to, would have prevented the actual discharge to the river the way it happened, then noncompliance with them was a cause of the discharge.

        This should be a line of inquiry.

      • David Andersen May 15, 2015 at 6:39 pm

        THERE ARE NO NRC REQUIREMENTS WITH REGARD TO DISCHARGES OF NON-RADIOACTIVE OIL TO THE RIVER.

    • Moderator May 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Our review of the May 9th transformer failure event at the Indian Point 3 nuclear power plant is still under way. We will be providing our findings in an upcoming inspection report.

      Neil Sheehan

      • drbillcorcoran May 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

        Who were the individuals and organizations that had opportunities to identify the harmful conditions, behaviors, actions, and inactions that resulted in the failed transformer, the failed fire suppression (reflash), the loss of the oil, the failure of the flood barriers, the failure of the pollution prevention measures, etc. before the event?

        How come each of them failed?

        How come they all failed?

        Is this a fair sample of how the U.S. nuclear power community performs?

        What is the extent?

        You can get an inkling by reading NRC Information Notices.

      • drbillcorcoran May 23, 2015 at 10:14 am

        Most nuclear power plants have several dozens of institutions and programs, each of which could have or should have prevented this event and each of its harmful outcomes by simple, prudent, compliant, competent, businesslike activity. Please list them all. Please ask IPEC to list them as failed, missing, and/or ineffective barriers in the root cause evaluation/ analysis.

  7. drbillcorcoran May 15, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Was it a “dike”, a “dyke”, a “berm”, a moat”, or what? How is it described in the plant drawings? How is it described in the Updated Final Safety Analysis Report?

    At any rate it did not do what was required. This means, in plain engineering English, it failed.

    An item fails when its service demand is not met by its service capability.

    What conditions, behaviors, actions, and inactions resulted in the failure?

    What were the earlier, better, cheaper, safer, more compliant ways that those conditions, behaviors, actions, and inactions and their causations could/should have been discovered?

    • Moderator May 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      There is a rock-filled moat surrounding the main transformers at Indian Point. Its purpose is to capture oil that is released from a transformer should it fail. We are still reviewing the event.

      Neil Sheehan

    • Dan Williamson May 19, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Are you going to hold an entrance meeting for this special inspection you’re conducting here? Will you be billing the NRC for all these postulated questions, or is this just your display of altruism? Do you have a bottomless barrel of questions?

      • drbillcorcoran May 20, 2015 at 9:21 am

        Dan,

        Your concerns are valid.

        I would like NRC and the industry to arrest the serious trend in downstream identified safety noncompliances that threaten nuclear power as a non-GHG emitting power option.

        What’s your approach?

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