Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Duke starts to shut N.C. Brunswick nuclear plant ahead of Florence

File Image CREDIT Adobe Stock File Image CREDIT Adobe Stock
Frank Williams | 17 September, 2018, 05:09

He added: "Those power plants are, one, obviously hardened".

Brunswick plant onsite NRC Inspector Galen Smith, had no worries that the Brunswick plant would survive the storm easily.

US power companies said more than 870,000 homes and businesses, mostly in North Carolina and SC, were without power on Saturday after Florence hit the Southeast coast.

Six power plants in North and SC appear set to be smashed by the Category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall on Friday, according to Duke Energy spokeswoman Mary Green.

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

According to the group, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not released public information validating that the plant has been properly updated to protect against flooding. Based on forecasts, we anticipate the plant site will experience sustained hurricane force winds and, per our procedures, operators are systematically shutting down both units.

Duke officials watching the storm's track on Thursday chose to close down the Brunswick plant, which is located about four miles from the coast.

There are 16 reactors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, the states that will likely suffer the most damage from Florence.

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According to a 2004 NRC report, Brunswick was rated to be waterproof against a storm surge of up to 6.7 metres (22 feet). Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.

The Brunswick Nuclear Plant has two reactors-of the same design as those used at Japan's Fukushima power plant, which exploded after being hit by earthquakes and floods.

Engineers and staff will be remaining on site at the plant to monitor the situation.

According to the News-Observer, the Fukushima plants backup generators flooded, which stopped the flow of cooling water to the reactor vessel.

According to CNN, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now monitoring nine different sites for their potential to release toxic chemicals into the environment, should they become compromised by flooding.

NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said the Brunswick plant is properly fortified to withstand hurricanes of Florence's strength, and there are plans in place to shut down if necessary.

The spread of toxic contaminants has been a concern for previous storms. The storm will be the first major hurricane of the season and will show how the sector responds after a trio of storms tested utility systems in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico past year - leaving some on the island without power for months.

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