Entergy Corp. says it will replace some bolts in Indian Point’s Unit 2, prompting the continuation of a planned refueling and maintenance shutdown of the reactor that started March 7. The company said the issues did not affect public health or safety.
Entergy announced Tuesday that during an inspection it discovered issues with about 11 percent of the 2000 bolts it inspected in the reactors removable insert liner. Engineers identified “missing bolts, and bars meant to hold them in place, and other degradation requiring replacement of the bolts.” The stainless steel bolts are about 2 inches long and hold plate inserts together in the reactor.
The company said it will do a full engineering assessment of the issue and take corrective action. The work is expected to add cost and extend the current refueling and maintenance outage for several weeks, Entergy said in a statement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has repeatedly called for the plant to be shut down, said the discovery of the “faulty bolts” is the latest in a series of incidents that “raise deep concerns about the management, maintenance and equipment standards at this plant.”
“While there is no immediate danger to public health and safety, this troubling news further validates the state’s ongoing investigation into the operations of this aging power plant and our position that it should not be relicensed,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Entergy said the latest inspection shows that Unit 2 is performing safely and as intended.
“Safety is always our first priority, and the hundreds of inspections performed over the last few weeks demonstrate these programs work as designed,” said Larry Coyle, the site vice president for Entergy.
The issues were found during Indian Point Unit 2’s “Aging Management Program,” an inspection implemented every 10 years in connection with the unit’s license renewal.
The license for Unit 2 has been expired since Sept. 2013, while the license for its other reactor, Unit 3, expired in December 2015. In November 2015, the state declined to give Indian Point a certificate to use the Hudson River, prompting the company to file a suit in federal court, contending the state certificate is not necessary.
In February, unusual levels of radioactive tritium contamination were discovered in a monitoring well near the plant. The company said then that the levels posed no health threat.
Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, pointed to the February tritium discovery and Tuesday’s announcement as “worrisome incidents.”
“This unprecedentedly serious damage right at the core of Indian Point reactor 2 makes it even harder for metro New York area residents to ignore the unfathomable risks that this nuclear plant poses to us every day,” said Riverkeeper president Paul Gallay.
Entergy said its engineers conducted more than 350 total inspections of critical equipment during the shutdown and that “even the slightest variation” was identified and repaired where necessary.
In a statement Wednesday, the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, a group of business, labor and community groups, said it is confident Entergy will take the proper steps to address the issue.
“It is important to keep in mind that Entergy … identified the bolts’ issue as part of an extremely comprehensive inspection and preventive maintenance program,” said New York AREA chairman Arthur Kremer. “The plant has an excellent safety record and a culture that always puts safety first.”