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Saturday 10 December 2022
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Cooling System Malfunction Causes Lake Ontario Oil Leak

During the last few days of June, a Syracuse nuclear plant had to be manually shut down after a power outage caused the plant’s water pumps to stop working.

According to CNY Central, the FitzPatrick nuclear plant leaked oil into Lake Ontario due to an apparent equipment failure. According to Entergy Corp. officials, the oil spill is non-hazardous, non-radioactive, and has low potential health effects.

“We are taking appropriate actions to mitigate the environmental consequence from this event and working closely with appropriate local, state and federal agencies,” said Brian Sullivan, vice president for FitzPatrick.

According to a report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the issues started in the early afternoon when a circuit breaker tripped. Because of a cooling system pump being tripped offline, plant operators had to manually shut the reactor down roughly 21 minutes after the circuit breaker tripped.

Syracuse.com reports that the control rods were manually inserted to immediately stop any nuclear reaction, which forced the reactor into cold shutdown status. A cold shutdown takes place when the temperature inside the cooling system is lower than 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

FitzPatrick states that the temperatures in the fuel pool rose because the building’s closed-loop cooling system was down.

Most of the time, a simple piping change can provide up to a 2% improvement in energy efficiency for the entire cooling system. FitzPatrick’s issues were on a much larger scale, however, and resulted in the Lake Ontario oil spill.

“The problem with the lubrication oil pump apparently occurred around the same time frame as the shutdown, “said Jerry Nappy, Entergy spokesman. “The investigation continues into the cause of the oil spill.”

Officials from the NRC reported that the plant leaked approximately 20 to 30 gallons of oil into Lake Ontario.

In November of 2015, Entergy announced that they would be closing the FitzPatrick plant sometime in 2017.