Nuclear Reactor Shutdown: Likely Caused by Bird Droppings?

March 09, 2016

By Joe Rizzo - Contributing Writer

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.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Article comments powered by Disqus

Power Your campus

Featured Whitepapers

Security & Power: The Critical Role of Power Protection for Security

This White Paper provides security users and installers with valuable information about the importance of power protection for security equipment.

Saving Time & Money with Remote Power Management

This White Paper provides statistics and information about the cost of downtime related to remote equipment, and how organizations can benefit from including remote power management products (IP-addressable PDUs) in their power protection strategy.

Powering Your Disaster Planning

The white paper describes key components of a comprehensive plan to prevent businesses and other organizations from suffering severe consequences as a result of a power outage.

Featured Technotes

What is 3-phase Power?

This installment of the TechNotes series takes you through the basics of single, dual, and 3-phase power, giving you the knowledge to decide which type of power is best for your needs.

Endeavor: Added Runtime vs. Added Cost

This TechNotes paper looks at the relationship between added cost and added runtime when including XL battery packs with Minuteman Endeavor 1kVA, 2kVA, & 3kVA UPSs.

Featured Podcast

The Importance of Remote Power Management for Disaster Preparedness

TMC podcast with Minuteman UPS/Para Systems on the importance of remote power management solutions for optimum power protection.