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Indian Point fire leads to Hudson River oil spill

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, center, briefs reporters on

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, center, briefs reporters on Sunday, May 10, 2015, the day after a small fire broke out at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y. Credit: Office of the Governor

BUCHANAN, N.Y. - A transformer fire at the Indian Point nuclear power plant resulted in 15,000 gallons of oil spilling into the Hudson River, but officials said neither posed a threat to the millions who live near the plant or to the river's ecosystem.

A transformer failed Saturday, causing a fire that automatically shut down a 1,000-megawatt reactor. The blaze was quickly extinguished and the reactor was deemed safe and stable, said Jerry Nappi, spokesman for plant owner Entergy Corp.

The transformer at Indian Point 3 takes energy created by the plant and changes the voltage for the grid supplying power to the state. The plant supplies electricity to millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County. Electrical service was not affected by the fire, plant officials said.

Nappi said it was not immediately clear what caused the fire or whether the transformer will be repaired or replaced. The plant's adjacent Unit 2 reactor was not affected.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference Sunday that crews were cleaning up the "light" oil that spilled into the Hudson River and said he believed there would be no permanent damage to the river's ecosystem.

However, Schumer expressed concern that a "relatively new eight-year-old transformer" malfunctioned, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there have been too many emergencies of late at the power plant.

"These situations we take very seriously," Cuomo said Sunday. "Luckily this was not a major situation. But the emergency protocols are very important."

Unit 3 had been shut down Thursday morning for an unrelated issue, a water leak on the non-nuclear side of the plant. It was repaired and there was no radioactive release, Nappi said. In March, Unit 3 was shut down for a planned refueling that took about a month.

National Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Diane Screnci said it was not out of the ordinary for a transformer to have a problem, and noted that it was on the non-nuclear side of the plant and that the public was not in danger.

Indian Point is in the town of Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

With AP

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