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Nuclear Energy Facilities Prove Resilience During Hurricane Sandy

The following news article originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

Of the 34 nuclear energy facilities in the path of Hurricane Sandy, all responded well and safely to the powerful storm, demonstrating their resilience against severe natural forces.

Careful planning and comprehensive preparations days in advance of the storm paid off at all the facilities, ensuring they were prepared to take the steps necessary to maintain safety against Sandy’s high winds, record flooding and disturbances on the regional electric grid. Highly trained reactor operators and emergency response personnel stationed at the plants throughout the storm took actions beyond their usual duties to protect the power plants and communities that surround them. Additional inspectors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission were stationed at each nuclear energy facility to oversee preparation for and recovery from the storm.

As Hurricane Sandy moved beyond the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states after knocking out electricity to 8 million customers in 13 states, nuclear facility operators were conducting thorough inspections to ensure that all systems and equipment stayed ready to maintain the facilities in a safe condition.

Of the 34 nuclear facilities from South Carolina to Vermont in Hurricane Sandy’s path, 24 continued to operate safely and generate electricity throughout the event. Seven were already shut down for refueling or inspection, and three (Salem 1 in New Jersey and Indian Point 3 and Nine Mile Point 1 in New York) safely shut down as designed because of storm conditions or grid disturbances.

“Hurricane Sandy demonstrates the robust construction of nuclear energy facilities, which are built to withstand extreme flooding and hurricane-force winds that are beyond that historically reported for each area,” said Marvin Fertel, NEI’s president and chief executive officer. “Beyond the physical strength of the plants, the professional crews that operate and maintain them take exacting precautions as significant storms approach. They also coordinate with local, state and federal emergency response officials.”

Fertel added, “In the days prior to Sandy storming the Atlantic coast, nuclear plant operators took a series of rigorous precautions outlined in their emergency preparedness plans.. These actions included securing or moving any equipment that could possibly become airborne due to high winds and verifying that weather-tight doors and water intakes were prepared. Each plant site also has numerous emergency backup diesel generators, which were tested for their readiness to provide electricity for critical operations if electric power from the grid was lost.”

During the hurricane on Oct. 29, Exelon Corp.’s Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey, which was shut down before the storm for a refueling outage, declared an alert. The alert, the second lowest of four NRC action levels, was in response to high water levels at the facility’s cooling water intake structure. Exelon is in the process of restoring off-site power to the facility. Until then, Oyster Creek is being safely powered by backup diesel-driven electrical generators that have fuel to power the reactor’s safety systems for more than two weeks. The plant’s reactor and used fuel storage pool have ample water supplies for cooling.

The following is a summary of U.S. nuclear power plant performance during Hurricane Sandy (as of 11 a.m., Oct. 30):

Connecticut:
Millstone 2—shut down for refueling outage
Millstone 3—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 75 percent on Oct. 29 at the request of the electric grid operator.

Maryland:
Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.

Massachusetts:
Pilgrim 1—continued operating at 100 percent power.

New Hampshire:
Seabrook 1—shut down for refueling outage, but safely restarted Oct. 30 and is at 20 percent power.

New Jersey:
Oyster Creek—shut down for refueling outage; alert declared Oct. 29 due to high water level at water intake structure
Hope Creek 1—continued operating at 100 percent power
Salem 1—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 30 due to high water level at water intake structure
Salem 2—shut down for refueling outage.

New York:
Indian Point 2—continued operating at 100 percent power
Indian Point 3—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 30 due to an electric grid disruption
Ginna—shut down for refueling outage
Fitzpatrick—continued operating at 100 percent power
Nine Mile Point 1—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 29 due to an electric grid disruption
Nine Mile Point 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.

North Carolina:
Brunswick 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.
Ohio:
Perry 1—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 91 percent on Oct. 30 at the request of the regional electric grid operator
Davis-Besse—continued operating at 100 percent power.

Pennsylvania:
Peach Bottom 2 and 3—continued operating at 100 percent power
Three Mile Island 1—continued operating at 100 percent power
Limerick 1 and 2—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 50 percent and 22 percent respectively on Oct. 30 due to storm effects and at the request of the regional electric grid operator
Beaver Valley 1—continued operating at 100 percent power
Beaver Valley 2—shut down for refueling outage
Susquehanna 1—shut down for turbine inspection
Susquehanna 2—continued operating at 75 percent power.

Vermont:
Vermont Yankee—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 90 percent on Oct. 30 at the request of the regional electric grid operator.

Virginia:
Surry 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power
North Anna 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.

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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First