When birds poop, they don’t do it in with tidy little pellets (goats), they don’t deposit pie-shaped shit stacks (cows), and it doesn’t come out in sausage-like links (dogs, humans). When birds let ‘er rip, it’s more like they’re squeezing cake icing from a tube. It’s messy. And it can shut down a power plant.

Yes, bird poop was the likely culprit for a three-day shutdown of a nuclear power plant 25 miles outside of New York City back in December. Entergy Corporation, which operates the reactor at Indian Point Energy Center, believes “streaming” caused an electric arc that blocked electric transmission.

According to a company report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, obtained by Lohud, part of the USA Today news network:

Damage was caused by a bird streamer. Streamers are long streams of excrement from large birds that are often expelled as a bird takes off from a perch

To get the question you might have by now — why this stuff can shut down a reactor — here’s the answer:

If a streamer contacts an energized conductor, 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.

Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi told NBC that the animal-involved incident was unusual, though not unheard of. “They’re kind of few and far between, but they’re not uncommon,” Nappi said. “Squirrels are the biggest offenders.”

In the same report, the New Orleans-based energy firm promised to review their maintenance procedures and update the plant’s inspection and cleaning protocol.

Sure, nobody likes to hear that bird poop managed to bring one of the country’s most secure energy assets to its knees, but at least the plant sensed something was wrong and shut down automatically. At least, this shit didn’t get out of control.


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