A New York state nuclear power reactor was shut down on Saturday, May 9, after a transformer fire occurred. People from the area reported hearing an explosion and seeing smoke coming from the plant. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the fire was quickly extinguished.

Officials said that conditions are stable at the Indian Point plant in Buchanan, New York and that there are no threats to residents who live nearby, but the incident has caused another problem: the leaking of thousands of gallons of oils into the Hudson River.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that oil was discharged into the river and said that emergency crew were already working near Buchanan to contain and clean up the fluid that leaked.

"If you are on site, you see an oil sheen all over the area where the transformer went on fire, and it was a significant area that was covered by oil, foam and water," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said that the oil in the transformer seeped into a holding tank, which does not have the capacity to contain all of the fluid, resulting in the oil entering the river waters via a discharge drain. The governor has called for the plant to be shut down in the past because of its proximity to the densely populated New York City. He added that anything that happens at the plant raises concerns.

Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Entergy Corp, which operates the facility and is one of the country's largest nuclear power operators, said that the fire prompted the closure of the Unit 3 reactor of the plant, but the fire did not cause any damage to the unit. The other Unit 2 reactor also continued to be operational.

"These events happen occasionally. They are not unheard of and the plant responded as designed," said NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner, who added that the fire happened at 5:50 p.m and was extinguished nearly half an hour later.

The fire was put out by personnel on site and the sprinkler system at the transformer, which is located about 300 to 400 feet away from the reactor. Emergency sirens in the area, however, did not sound after the incident.

Large transformer fires or explosions may not be usual, but it is not something that is unheard of. Although such incidents can be shocking to see, similar recent incidents only caused minimal disruption at the facilities. Still, many have called for the plant to be permanently shut down because of the potential threats that it poses.

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