Safe, Clean, Reliable? Yeah, right.

Algae hampers Yankee cooling system

By Susan Smallheer STAFF WRITER – Published: July 9, 2009

BRATTLEBORO – The algae problem at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that is affecting the plant’s ability to cool itself will probably mean the plant will reduce power for a couple of hours several days a week for the rest of the summer.

But Entergy Nuclear workers recently discovered a reduced efficiency in the chlorination system that has been tracked to an “underperforming chlorine injection system,” said Entergy Nuclear spokesman Robert Williams.

He said the system had been repaired and plant efficiency was improving.

The nuclear reactor uses water from the Connecticut River to cool key plant components, but the buildup of algae lessens the effectiveness of the heat transfer and the algae must be removed by chlorination, Williams noted.

“The biofouling continues to be normal slime-producing algae – the same familiar aquatic growth that clings to rocks in the rivers,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Williams said because the plant is now producing 20 percent more power, and as a result 20 percent more steam, the plant’s cooling towers can’t do all the cooling, so the reactor must reduce power to facilitate the chlorination, he said.

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