Pilgrim nuclear plant struggles with cooling reactor and turbine
- May 23, 2019
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May 23-- May 23--PLYMOUTH -- With just eight days left until final shutdown, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station remained at 41 percent of its full power Thursday due to struggles with clogged screens that filter seawater being drawn from Cape Cod Bay to cool the reactor and turbine.
While plant operators generally conduct a thermal backwash to rid the screens of debris, Patrick O'Brien, spokesman for Pilgrim's owner-operator Entergy Corps., said the decision on whether a backwash will be done has yet to be made.
It may not make a difference as the clock runs down on the reactor's operation. "There's no plan to go back to 100 percent," O'Brien said. "You'll see us well below that for the remainder of life." In addition to the problem in the cooling system, the fuel in the reactor has gone a bit beyond the date when it is usually changed out, O'Brien said.
Still, Pilgrim's final days have not been smooth.
Operators had shut down the reactor on May 17 when one of two pumps that deliver water to the cooling system automatically tripped. After the problem was fixed, the plant began slowly powered up late Tuesday.
Pilgrim is scheduled to cease operation on May 31, after 46 years of production.
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