Indian Point, the nuclear power plant 25 miles up the Hudson from the Bronx, is half shut down after several control rods sputtered out on Saturday evening, prompting one of the plant's two reactors to power off. Plant operators closed down Reactor 2 at around 5:30 p.m. after seeing the rods, which help harness and temper the ongoing nuclear reaction, lose power. Patricia Kakridas, a spokeswoman for Entergy, which runs the plant, called the problem a "relatively minor equipment issue." She explained:
Much like a circuit breaker works in your home, an electrical issue caused loss of power to some of the control rods and triggered the shutdown. Nuclear plants are designed to shut down automatically when there is any issue-even a very minor one-is detected that would affect the reactor. In this instance, operators noted the issue immediately and before the plant went into automatic shutdown, they conducted a controlled manual shutdown.
Kakridas said the reactor would likely remain dormant for the next few days.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo relayed the company's declaration that no radioactivity was released during the shutdown, and said he's sending a team from the Department of Public Service to investigate the incident and monitor the process of bringing the reactor back online. Reactor 3 was unaffected by the shutdown.
Cuomo wants to close the malfunction-plagued plant, arguing that it's in too densely populated an area for comfort. In May, a transformer exploded at the plant, sending thousands of gallons of oil into the Hudson River and forcing the closure of Reactor 3. Kakridas said it took 16 days to reboot the reactor. The Associated Press reports Reactor 3 was also shut down in July due to a water pump problem, and the unit's transformers caught fire in 2007 and 2010.
Indian Point sits within a mile or so of at least one seismic fault line and is considered one of the nation's 10 nuclear plants most at risk from earthquakes. The plant produces about a quarter of New York City and Westchester's electricity, according to Entergy.