Bird Droppings Caused Nuclear Reactor Outage

ALBANY (AP) -

Bird droppings was the likely cause of a December shutdown at a nuclear power plant outside New York City, according to the operator.

An Indian Point reactor safely shut down for three days starting Dec. 14 following an electrical disturbance on outdoor high voltage transmission lines, Entergy Corp. said. An outside expert is analyzing whether what’s technically called bird “streaming” caused an electric arc between wires on a feeder line at a transmission tower.

“If it has nowhere to send its electricity, the generator senses that and automatically shuts down,” Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said.

Plant managers told the NRC they were revising preventive maintenance for additional inspection and cleaning and installing bird guards on transmission towers.

Nappi said he couldn’t recall a similar incident in the past several years from birds at Indian Point, which is located north of Manhattan.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Eliot Brenner said it’s not uncommon for wildlife to trigger electrical outages on transmission lines regardless of the generation source of the electricity. “Squirrels are the biggest offenders,” he said.