Preparing a Nuclear Power Plant ahead of Hurricane Florence

Daniel Fowler
September 17, 2018

DUK says it is following procedures and shutting Unit 1 and will start shutting Unit 2 at the 1,870 MW plant later today.

President Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid.

It's predicted to directly pass over the Brunswick Nuclear Plant - about 30 miles south of Wilmington - as well as the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, a town farther inland. "Two, they have backup generators for power and we will rapidly assess any impacts to a nuclear power plant post-storm", Byard said in a call with media.

"Brunswick is closest to the eye, but every reactor exposed to hurricane-force winds will be shut down", said U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Joey Ledford told Weather.com.

Duke Energy's two-unit Brunswick plant, south of Wilmington, North Carolina, could face hurricane-force winds, major storm surges and heavy rain, the NRC said yesterday.

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

More than 8,000 Duke workers in North and SC are already in the area, and 1,700 workers from Duke Energy Midwest and 1,200 from Duke Energy Florida will also be on hand.

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

80-Foot Waves Recorded Near Hurricane Florence
This part of the North Carolina coast, farther east than Wilmington and other points to the south, received Florence's first blow. Rain begins to fall as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 13, 2018.

Bobby Brown, 50, with his granddaughter Lyric, 1, during a power outage in Florence, South Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018.

The National Advanced Hydrologic Advanced Prediction Service predicted flood levels on Cape Fear near the nuclear plant will reach 24.5 feet on September 17, a foot above the previous record of 23.5 feet, according to Weather.com.

"Those power plants are, one, obviously hardened".

Flooding at nuclear plants became more of a concern after a 2011 quake and subsequent tsunami in Japan caused one of the worst nuclear disasters since the 1986 Chernobyl incident.

"This is no ordinary storm and customers could be without power for a very long time - not days, but weeks", said Fowler. The Robinson plant responded to a temporary loss of off-site power by shutting down safely.

She said that shutting the plant down is part of the disaster preparedness plan that all nuclear plants must have in place.

The cyclone is one of the most powerful hurricanes to have formed in the Atlantic this year.

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