A Snowstorm and a Pilgrim

Anti-nuclear websites are absolutely abuzz with the “news” that Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station is shut down. Pilgrim experienced two unplanned shutdowns in January due to an electrical relay trip and then a leaking safety valve. The plant was operating around 80 percent of full power when the snow storm that hit the north eastern United States this week caused a power outage that forced the plant to shutdown.

The reason for the shutdown is very simple. High winds = downed trees = downed power lines. Or maybe your neighbor hit the pole up the street. (Thanks a lot Ally!) If the electrical distribution grid is damaged such that it cannot carry electricity to customers, there is no use continuing to churn out electricity to it. Therefore, the plant shut down. This operation is by design, and is not initiated due to any malfunction with the plant itself. It’s akin to turning off the water supply to a tub when the tub has sprung a leak. There’s nothing wrong with the water supply.

However, some websites’ treatment of this outage is less incendiary than others.

CBS Local
CBS Local gets it right.
Boston.com is not too bad.
AP gives the impression a nuclear plant cannot withstand a snow storm.

But I don’t think anyone tops the whoppers on Energy News – a highly disreputable site to begin with – under this headline:

Energy "News"
Energy “News”

From the comments under this highly misleading headline, you would think the plant is in imminent danger of wiping out the eastern seaboard and sending a fiery exploding nuclear mess dropping straight to China.

Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with Pilgrim’s boiling water reactor. The emergency diesel generators are running and keeping the plant cool. When the grid is back in working condition, the plant will restart and life will go on. And anti-nuclear activists will continue to spread lies about it all.