Nuclear plants in Florence's path prepare to weather storm

James Marshall
September 14, 2018

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) regional incident response centre in Atlanta, Georgia will provide round-the-clock support during the storm.

The six nuclear power plants in North and SC sit directly in the storm's projected path, according to Mary Catherine Green, spokeswoman for Duke Energy, which owns all six.

Nuclear plants have procedures that require they shut a safe amount of time before hurricane force winds of at least 74 miles per hour are expected to reach the site.

Since Fukushima, all USA reactors have been upgraded with additional safety equipment, including portable pumps and generators to keep cooling water circulating through the reactor in case the plant loses offsite power.

Additional NRC inspectors are being sent to plants in the affected areas, where NRC resident inspectors are reviewing operator preparations.

Duke spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Green said the company was following its procedures and is shutting Unit 1 now and would start shutting Unit 2 at the 1,870-megawatt plant later today. Three of these - North Carolina's Brunswick Nuclear Plant, and South Carolina's Robinson and Vogtle Nuclear Stations - are located in areas that will likely see the worst of Florence's impacts. We'll have more on Hurricane Florence after headlines.

"We feel well prepared".

The USA's nuclear power plants have weathered hurricanes before.

In addition to keeping up to date on the storm conditions (wind speeds, rainfall amounts, storm surge, etc), staff are required to inspect the entire site for equipment that may be moved by the storm's winds, and secure doors and water supply lines. Emergency equipment, such as generators and pumps, are checked to ensure full operability. The Robinson plant responded to a temporary loss of off-site power by shutting down safely.

The cyclone is one of the most powerful hurricanes to have formed in the Atlantic this year. The Harris plant also experienced a loss of off-site power, but was already shut down for a scheduled refuelling outage. Diesel generators, with at least seven days worth of fuel, must be on hand to take over, should the plant lose power from the local electric grid.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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