Generally when people hear that a nuclear power plant had to shut down, two thoughts immediately come to mind. Either there was a terrible accident, or some sort of terrorist attack. On December 14 last year, it was reported that New York’s Indian Point reactor safely shut down for three days following an electrical disturbance on outdoor high-voltage transmission lines.
Was it an accident? Was it a terrorist attack? Depending on how you look at it, well sort of the second option. According to the power plant operator on duty, the most likely cause of the shutdown was bird poop. New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. recently said that an outside expert has been analyzing whether what's technically called bird "streaming" was the culprit. To date no bird carcass has been found, so it is difficult to know what type of bird is responsible.
It seems that this is not a unique experience and that plant managers have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that there are plans in the works to install bird guards on transmission towers. Apparently bird droppings can cause an electric arc between wires on feeder lines at the towers which automatically signal the power plant to shut, since it has nowhere to send the electricity.
In recent years, it seems like there have been more power disturbances than normal. While some can definitely be linked to terrorism, in most cases severe weather conditions are the major cause and of course, the occasional bird mess. Regardless of the cause, once the power does go out, individual and business data and equipment is at risk.
Today’s equipment can be very sensitive and expensive. Having it blow out when a power surge, spike or outage unexpectedly hits you can cause lots of headaches, not to mention holes in your wallet. A simple solution is to have a reliable uninterruptable power supply (UPS), a cost-effective way to maintain crucial equipment, data and provide peace of mind.