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Pilgrim Nuclear power station forced to reduce power due to stormy weather and rising ocean temperatures

Stormy weather forces Pilgrim nuclear plant to power down, es Pilgrim nuclear plant to power down, By Christine Legere / Cape Cod Times, PLYMOUTH — Tropical storm Jose has been churning up the waters of Cape Cod Bay and creating operational problems for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in the process.

Pilgrim operators reduced the reactor’s power to 70 percent of its maximum Thursday due to rising ocean water temperatures. The temperature of the seawater used to cool the reactor cannot exceed 75 degrees under standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We took action when it reached 71 degrees to ensure we did not challenge the limit,” said Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner and operator.

Pilgrim draws up to 500 million gallons daily from Cape Cod Bay. The water cools the reactor and the turbine, passing through a network of thousands of tubes.

The seawater being discharged by the nuclear reactor is considerably hotter than the water drawn in — as much as 30 degrees hotter. The locations of the water intake structure and discharge structure at Pilgrim are separated by a jetty to help prevent the warm discharge water from migrating to the intake area and boosting the water temperature there.

“Previously, during storm monitoring, operations identified the potential for ocean conditions that would require preemptive actions and a power reduction as salt service water temperatures rose,” O’Brien said in his email. “Once predetermined criteria were met, operators commenced power reduction.”

  Nuclear plants are about one-third efficient, explained David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Of the three units of energy produced by the reactor core, one third goes out onto the transmission lines as electricity, and two thirds gets rejected to the nearby body of water,” Lochbaum said. “Reducing the reactor power level reduces the amount of heat energy carried away by the discharge flow, thus also reducing the amount of warm water sneaking around the jetty to re-enter the plant.”

The reactor will remain at reduced power until ocean temperatures allow for its return to full power operation, O’Brien said. — Follow Christine Legere on Twitter: @ChrisLegereCCT.

September 23, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, USA


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