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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it sent additional staff to monitor conditions and storm preparation at the 14 nuclear units from Maryland to New Hampshire in Irene’s path as well as a nuclear fuel production plant in North Carolina.
Up and down the east coast nearly three million people are without power and more outages are expected as the hurricane heads north northeast at 25 mph into New England states. At 0830 East Coast Time the center of the hurricane was over central Connecticut.
According to an ANS Nuclearcafe report there has been no major consequences so far. One unit was shut at Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CNEG) Calvert Cliff, Maryland refinery. The shut down was accomplished automatically by the application controlling the plant after a transformer in the switchyard was hit by a piece of aluminum from a nearby building. No impact on employees at the plant or threat to the surrounding area have been reported.
The event is labelled as ‘Unusual Event’ – the lowest in the 4-tier classification as by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission instructions.
The company’s spokesperson reported heavy gusts of winds caused by Hurricane Irene caused the falling of a large piece of aluminum siding from a building. The siding eventually hit one of the Unit transformer.
Exelon Corp took its Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey offline at 5 pm EDT Saturday. The plant initially lowered power to 30% as part of an orderly and safe shutdown process in anticipation of high winds from the hurricane. As required by NRC directives and regulations, a plant must close when winds speed exceed 75 mph.
Dominion Resources Inc and Progress Energy are reducing power at Millstone plant in Connecticut and Brunswick nuclear plant, respectively. The latter is located on the North Carolina coast, and it was cut to 65 to 75 percent power late Friday.
Entergy company officials say their Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan is “designed and built to withstand extreme weather”. The company is coordinating emergency communications systems with the NRC, FEMA and state agencies and backup diesel-powered generators are available to provide electricity to plant safety systems if power is lost. If offsite power goes down, Indian Point is designed to safely shut down if its needs to. Under severe weather procedures, plant operators monitoring area wind speeds may actually take precautionary actions to begin shutting the plants down prior to those winds reaching the site.