Nuclear Plant 25,000 Gallon Oil Spill
An investigation and cleanup continued Monday at a southwest Michigan nuclear plant after a transformer failure spilled about 25,000 gallons of oil on Friday.
The incident occurred on the power distribution side of the D.C. Cook nuclear plant on the shore of Lake Michigan in Bridgman, and no radioactivity threat was ever present, plant spokesman Bill Schalk said. The plant is owned by Indiana Michigan Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Electric Power, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
About 25,000 gallons of the 30,000 gallons of oil held by the transformer were released, Schalk said. Most of the oil was contained by a protective berm around the transformer, but about 2,000 gallons of the oil spilled on ground outside of the berm, he said.
The oil did not reach nearby drains or Lake Michigan, Schalk said. “We’re going to have to remove some soil, but we expect to recapture all of that oil,” he said.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Berrien County Emergency Management were notified of the spill, Schalk said. Plant personnel and local fire responders monitored the transformer overnight Friday as cleanup began. Several small fires flared up, but were quickly extinguished as the transformer drained and cooled, Schalk said.
DEQ officials did not immediately provide comment on Monday.
The transformer is relatively new, installed only “a few years ago,” and the cause of its failure remains under investigation, Schalk said.
Though another transformer unit at Cook is down for refueling, the company’s remaining operational transformer unit means the plant’s power generation is continuing unimpeded, he said.