A sudden shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear reactor just outside of New York last December is believed to have been triggered by bird droppings that interfered with the outdoor electrical lines. What is called bird “streaming” is not as uncommon as you may think and it makes for quite a crappy inconvenience, especially in light of the plant’s recent failures.
Mid-December one of the Indian Point reactors along the Hudson River shut down after an automatic response from the generator. There was a disturbance on the high voltage transmission lines outdoors and one assumption the company is making is that bird feces caused an electric arc between the lines, causing the programmed shutdown response.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Eliot Brenner said of wildlife-related outages, “They’re kind of few and far between, but they’re not uncommon” and that “Squirrels are the biggest offenders.” A spokesman from Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, reported being unaware of similar incidents at the site. Even so, they are reportedly taking some measures to prevent such thing from happening in the future, such as installing bird guards and transmission towers and adding more routine inspection for droppings.