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NRC Keeps Eye on Nuclear Plants in Sandy’s Path – Including Three That Shut Down During the Storm

We continue to maintain our heightened watch over nuclear power plants impacted by Sandy – including three reactors that experienced shutdowns during the storm and Oyster Creek in New Jersey, which remains in an “Alert.”

The three reactors to experience trips, or shutdowns, during the storm are Nine Mile Point 1 in Scriba, N.Y., Indian Point 3 in Buchanan, N.Y.; and Salem Unit 1 in Hancocks Bridge, N.J.

Nine Mile Point 1 underwent an automatic shutdown at about 9 p.m. Monday when an electrical fault occurred on power lines used to send power to the grid. It is likely a storm-related event, but the plant’s operators are still evaluating the cause. All plant safety systems responded as designed and the shutdown was safely carried out. Meanwhile, Nine Mile Point 2 experienced a loss of one of two incoming off-site power lines as a result of the fault. One of the plant’s emergency diesel generators started in response to generate power usually provided by the line. Nine Mile Point 2 remained at full power.

Indian Point 3 automatically shut down at about 10:40 p.m. Monday in response to electrical grid disturbances caused by the storm. All safety systems responded as designed and the unit was placed in a safe shutdown condition.

Salem Unit 1 was manually shut down by plant operators at about 1:10 a.m. Tuesday as a result of circulating-water pumps being affected by high river level and debris in the waterway. The circulating-water system is used to cool down steam generated by the reactor; it is a closed system that does not come into contact with any radioactivity.

At Oyster Creek, the Alert was declared at approximately 8:45 p.m. Monday, preceded by an “Unusual Event” at about 7 p.m. when the water level first reached a minimum high water level criteria. The water level rose due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge. While the water level has dropped since peaking earlier today, the Alert will not be exited until the level is below the specific criteria for the intake structure, which is where water from an intake canal is pumped into the plant for cooling purposes. Oyster Creek was shut down for a refueling and maintenance outage prior to the storm and the reactor remains out of service.

The NRC will continue to coordinate with other federal and state agencies prior to the restart of the affected plants.

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

3 responses to “NRC Keeps Eye on Nuclear Plants in Sandy’s Path – Including Three That Shut Down During the Storm

  1. Bwr engineer October 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Just curious, where can i find the NRC requirement for plant shutdown in anticipation of a hurricane. I understand reg guide 1.73 talks about tornado winds, and there are some draft guides about hurricane design basis, but where does the “shutdown 2 hours prior to hurricane force winds” requirement come from? I’m having trouble finding it. Is it a plant by plant commitment or order or an old nureg? (I work at an inland plant so we don’t have hurricane procedures)

    Thank you!

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