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Deep Freeze Spawns Rare Frazil Ice That Hobbles Nuclear Reactor

  • Public Service Enterprise shuts New Jersey reactor Thursday
  • Ice on intake screen blocked flow of water needed for cooling
Ice floats in the Hudson River as the skyline of New York City is seen from New Jersey on Jan. 31.
Ice floats in the Hudson River as the skyline of New York City is seen from New Jersey on Jan. 31.Source: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The arctic blast wreaking havoc across much of the U.S. was cold enough to shut down a nuclear reactor, thanks to a rare phenomenon called frazil ice.

Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. shut one unit at its Salem nuclear plant in southern New Jersey early Thursday after intake screens froze over, restricting the flow of water needed to cool the reactor, according to spokesman Joe Delmar. A second unit at the station on the Delaware river was powered down because of the same problem.