Pilgrim nuclear power plant operating at full power again after slowdowns last week

The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, which partially limited its operations due to high water temperatures in Cape Cod Bay last week, is back operating at full power today.

The heat wave that gripped the region for the past week had water temperatures in the bay soaring, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that water drawn from it to cool the power station be below 75 degrees.

As a result, the station reduced its normal operating power to 85 percent for about 90 minutes on Wednesday and to 95 percent for an hour on Thursday, said Carol Wightman, spokeswoman for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

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On Friday, the station returned to normal operations at full power, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, which oversees the plant.

Wightman said the plant is evaluating changes to operating procedures in case of further problems from heat. “We’ve still got the rest of July and all of August,” she said.

A plant in Millstone, Conn., facing the same problem last summer changed the 75 degree limit to 80 degrees, Sheehan said. Such a change requires a lengthy environmental safety analysis.

The Plymouth plant powers 680,000 homes in the region.

The only other time the Plymouth plant has reduced power was for two hours in August 2003, Sheehan said.