Increased leakage of slightly radioactive water forced the operators of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, located just 30 miles north of New York City, to shut down one of the plant’s reactors yesterday. Operator Entergy Corp. said that there was no release of radioactivity and there is no danger to the plant workers or to the public. Proper shut down procedures were followed and all of the radioactive water had been captured, according to the Nuclear Regulatory¬†Commission. Indian Point generates approximately 2,000 megawatts of electricity and is a major source of energy for NYC and Westchester County.

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One of Indian Point’s two reactors had to be shut down yesterday after workers discovered an increase in the amount of water leaking from the cooling pump. The pump is one of four that supply water to Reactor 2 in order to keep it cool. The water becomes slightly radioactive because it circulates through the nuclear fuel, and normally, the pumps leak about two gallons per minute through their mechanical seals. But on Monday, the leakage rate rose to 3.5 gallons and then hit 5.5 gallons early Tuesday morning, prompting the shut down.

Reactor 3 is still fully operational, but the NRC is unsure of how long Reactor 2 will be offline. The future of Indian Point is currently up in the air, as Gov. Cuomo has opposed renewing the plant’s operating certificates, which expire in 2013 and 2015. Since the earthquake and ensuing nuclear catastrophe in Japan last year, many believe that having a nuclear plant like Indian Point in such a densely populated area is dangerous. The prospect of shutting down the plant for good has caused several studies to be conducted on how this would affect energy supply in the region. One shows that shuttering the plant could cause an increase in coal power plant use, thus polluting our air and raising our energy bills, while another, by Riverkeeper, shows that this would not be the case at all.

Via Business Week