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Explosion at US nuclear plant causes oil leak

11 May 2015

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) sent inspectors to Entergy Corp’s Indian Point nuclear power plant 35 miles north of New York City after a transformer explosion and fire caused one reactor to shut down on May 9. The NRC said the initial inspection found the plant's procedures and fire-suppression system worked.

Image: Denton Rumsey /
Image: Denton Rumsey /

Entergy classified the explosion and fire at Indian Point 3 as an "unusual event," the lowest of four levels of emergency classification used by the NRC.

No one was injured in the explosion and there was no release of radioactivity, but several thousand gallons of oil spilled into the Hudson River from the plant after the fire suppression system automatically sprayed water on the transformer fire, causing a mixture of oil and water to overflow the transformer moat down drains and into the river.

The fire did not pose a threat to workers or the public, Entergy said. It confirmed it would clean up the oil spill. The IP2 reactor at the plant remains operational.

Indian Point has a history of transformer mishaps, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference on May 10. Safety, security and environmental concerns at Indian Point remain a top priority, given the nuclear facility's location on the Hudson River, he said.

Joseph Martens, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation said the transformer contained 80,000 gallons of oil, and that the cleanup could take several days. He said absorbent booms had been positioned near the plant to contain the slick.

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester, said on May 10 that the NRC should not renew Indian Point's operating license.

"This latest episode proves that Indian Point remains a serious threat to public health and safety," Lowey said in a statement. "We are extremely fortunate that a catastrophic scenario did not unfold, and I urge officials to conduct a swift and thorough investigation."

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