Malfunctioning pump shuts down Indian Pt. reactor

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A malfunctioning water pump forced an unplanned shutdown of a nuclear reactor at Indian Point.

Every two years, plant owner Entergy has to replace fuel rods in the nuclear reactors at Indian Point. The gradual process of shutting down the reactor at Unit 2 for what is called a ?fuel outage? was already under way when a water pump in the non-nuclear part of the plant began having problems. That forced the total shutdown of the reactor, two days earlier than planned.

?Since we were within 48 hours of our outage, we decided to shut down for the refueling and maintenance outage," says Entergy spokesperson Robyn Bentley.

The reactor was shut down without incident and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was immediately notified. The NRC is in the process of reviewing applications to extend licenses for Unit 2 and Unit 3, for 20 years. One argument made by critics is the plants are already more than 30 years old.

?Indian Point suffers from a rate of unplanned shutdowns that's five to six times the national average,? says Phillip Musegaas of Riverkeeper, a group that opposes the plant.

Entergy officials contend the internal workings of the plant have been continually upgraded over the years. They say the pump that had problems leading to the latest shutdown was installed four years ago and will be repaired during the current outage.

NRC officials say because there have not been any recent problems with Indian Point 2, the unplanned shutdown will not result in a change in the plant's safety rating.

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