Arkansas nuclear plant shuts down unit after transformer fire

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 1:00 p.m. CDT

A transformer fire at a nuclear power plant in Arkansas has forced the shutdown of one of the two units at the site, utility officials said on Wednesday.

There is no date for when the unit will come back online, said Mike Bowling, a spokesman for Entergy, the company that owns and operates the two units.

“We don’t anticipate any great issues” from the loss of one plant, which is expected to be temporary, Bowling said.

The fire took place about 8 a.m. EST Monday in a faulty transformer located in a switch yard outside the Arkansas Nuclear One plant near the city of Russellville, about 90 miles northwest of Little Rock. The fire was extinguished about 70 minutes later.

There were no injuries, no radiation release and no threat to public safety, officials said.

“Staff is seeking to determine the cause of the fault,” Bowling told the Los Angeles Times. He said there is a replacement transformer available and that it will be installed.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission activated its incident response in Arlington, Texas, after operators declared an “Unusual Event” at the site. That designation is the lowest of four emergency levels, Bowling said.

Arkansas Nuclear One, located along the Arkansas River, has two units that produce a total of more than 1,823 megawatts of power, or about 30 percent of the state’s usage. Only Unit 2 is down, while Unit 1 is unaffected.

Entergy, based in New Orleans, serves 2.8 million homes and businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

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