Thursday, September 13, 2018

NRC Preparing for Hurricane Florence

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission resident inspectors at nuclear plants in the Carolinas and Virginia are reviewing the plant operators’ preparations in advance of Hurricane Florence, currently projected to make landfall in the Southeast later this week.

The NRC is also sending additional inspectors to those plants and will activate its regional incident response center in Atlanta, to provide around-the-clock staff support during the storm.

Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant south of Wilmington, N.C., could face hurricane-force winds, major storm surges and heavy rain. Other plants near the storm’s projected path are also taking precautions.

Nuclear plant operators would declare an emergency if conditions are expected that would require that declaration.

Plant procedures require operators to shut down the reactor well before hurricane-force winds arrive on site. In preparing for Hurricane Florence, the staffs at Brunswick, Surry in southeastern Virginia, Harris near Raleigh, N.C., Robinson near Hartsville, S.C., and some other plants are working through their severe weather procedures, including ensuring that all loose debris and equipment have been removed or secured, and conducting walk-down inspections of important systems and equipment.

NRC inspectors are verifying that all preparations have been completed, and the plants’ emergency diesel generators are available with ample fuel if the storm affects off-site power.

The NRC has also been in touch with officials at the Global Nuclear Fuels-America facility near Wilmington, N.C., the research reactor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and other NRC licensees in the area to verify their preparations for the storm.

From the NRC Region II incident response center in Atlanta, NRC staff members will monitor Hurricane Florence while remaining in contact with plant operators, NRC on-site inspectors, the NRC’s headquarters operations center, and state emergency officials in the Carolinas, Virginia and all potentially affected states.

The additional NRC inspectors will remain at the nuclear plant sites and the incident response center will remain staffed as long as conditions require.

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