What does it take to shut down a nuclear power plant? Bird droppings. The Indian Point Energy Center—which sits 24 miles north of New York City—was closed for three days last December following an electrical disturbance on an outdoor transmission line. According to CNN, a state-commissioned probe recently revealed that disturbance was actually a pile of bird poop, which likely caused the nuclear reactor to automatically trip.
The report by Entergy Corporation (the plant's operator), obtained by LoHud, explained that "long streams of excrement from large birds that are often expelled as a bird takes off from a perch" sometimes fall onto the plant’s electrical equipment. When these “streamers” come in contact with an energized conductor, officials wrote, “the electrical current may travel through the streamer back to the bird or pole/transmission tower. The result may be a bird electrocution, power outage, and/or line trip.”
Since the damage was found near an area where birds typically perch, it’s assumed that their excrement was the culprit. (The report also said that no dead birds were found near the site.)
Thankfully, there were no radiation leaks from the malfunction and everyone at the plant was safe. To ensure that pesky poop doesn’t interfere with the plant’s operation again, RT.com writes that managers at Indian Point are now installing bird guards on transmission towers, and are also inspecting and cleaning the lines more.