A string of unplanned shutdowns in the past year at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to downgrade the performance rating of the 41-year-old Plymouth facility, which will now be under increased scrutiny by regulators.
“The plant has slipped in its performance,” commission chairwoman Allison M. Macfarlane said Friday after a plant tour. “It is not in the worst shape yet, but . . . we want to ensure they don’t get there.”
The plant has had a handful of issues this year, starting with two shutdowns in January — one caused by a leaky safety valve and the other by recirculation pumps. This week, the NRC sent a letter to Pilgrim officials, citing a shutdown in August, when three water pumps were unexpectedly tripped, and another in October caused by a loss of offsite power as contributing to the plant’s downgrade.
Pilgrim owner Entergy Corp. said it has already begun to take corrective action, including making personnel changes and looking at ways to improve the reliability of external power sources. “We’re very comfortable that we know where we are, that we have the programs in place turn the plant around,” said Entergy spokesman James Sullivan.