Transformer fails after Palisades Plant taken offline for scheduled maintenance

Posted at 4:59 PM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-20 23:48:18-04

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich.  — A spokesman for the Palisades Nuclear Plant says the plant was taken offline for scheduled maintenance before a transformer fault occurred this past week. That clarifies the timeline of events that transpired, beginning October 13th.

A spokesman for the plant says Palisades Control Room Operators took the facility offline to address a degraded control rod drive seal. So, the transformer fault occurred while the maintenance was occurring.  Federal inspectors did not shut the plan down, as reported previously.

“Entergy made the conservative decision to take the plant offline and replace this component prior to our fall 2018 refueling outage,” says Entergy Corporation.

The NRC said in a Friday news release that radioactive water leaked through a seal on a Control Rod Drive on October 13th, but the amount of leakage remained under the Technical Specification limit of one gallon per minute, before being repaired.

“No significant operational transient occurred from the transformer failing, ” says the NRC. “The resident inspector was on site at the time of the transformer failure and responded to the control room to verify licensee actions.”

However, the nuclear plant remains offline. A stepdown transformer failed on October 15th, after scheduled maintenance was already underway on the control rod drive seal.  The transformer is used to reduce voltage levels that can be used by plant equipment, according to the news release.

New Orleans-based Entergy announced an agreement this past summer to sell the 845-MW Palisades plant to a Holtec International subsidiary, according to an August 1st Holtec public statement. The company says that was for the purpose of accelerating the decommissioning of the plant after its announced closure in the spring of 2022. An Associated Press article in 2017 said Entergy had planned to close Palisades in 2018, but the decommissioning of the plant built by Consumers Energy in the late 1960s was pushed back a few years.

Entergy says, “The transaction is subject to review by the federal regulator and would not occur until after the plant’s shutdown.”