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UPDATED: Hurricanes – And Preparedness — Are In Focus This Month

Update: Over Labor Day weekend, Hermine had minimal impact on nuclear power plants in its path. The Brunswick plant, in North Carolina, temporarily down powered due to a loss of one offsite power line, but no plants in the southeast were forced to shut down and there was no major damage. Nuclear power plants in the northeast fare similarly. The NRC will continue to keep tabs on the storm’s movements with respect to possible impacts on New England nuclear power plants, but for now it appears they will not experience the kinds of wind speeds that could prompt operators to consider reducing power or shutting down a reactor. Roger Hannah and Neil Sheehan

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

The NRC joins the rest of the federal government this September — National Preparedness Month — in urging you keep your emergency plans up to date. Your plans should cover natural hazards for your area, including earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. With Tropical Storm Hermine taking aim at the U.S., now is a particularly good time to think preparedness.

emergencyThe NRC’s preparedness planning deals with potential accidents with radioactive material, particularly nuclear power plants.

If you live within about 10 miles of a U.S. nuclear power plant, the plant sends you emergency planning information every year. You might get this information in the form of a calendar, brochure or other document. A very important part of these materials discusses how emergency plans cover special groups such as students or people with disabilities. The materials include who to contact ahead of time for any additional help you, a family member or neighbor might need during an emergency. When you share this information with emergency officials, they can also use it during natural events.

The planning materials also include basic information on radiation, instructions for protective actions such as evacuation and sheltering in place, and contacts for additional information. It’s always good to store this information where you can easily find it if needed.

Another key part of your emergency plan is staying informed during an event. The NRC requires every U.S. nuclear power plant to have reliable ways of quickly informing people within 10 miles that something’s happening. This can involve sirens, tone-alert radios (think weather-alert radios), or emergency officials driving through your neighborhood and giving instructions over loudspeakers. A plant’s annual planning information will include the radio or television channels to tune to for Emergency Alert System (EAS) information and instructions during an event.

The NRC examines all of this emergency preparedness work in assessing every U.S. nuclear power plant’s ability to protect the public. Working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the NRC grades a plant’s full-scale exercise at least once every two years. These exercises maintain the skills of plant, local, state and NRC emergency responders, as well as identify anything the plants need to improve. NRC inspectors also evaluate additional plant drills.

You can find more general information and tips on creating your family’s emergency plans at Ready.gov . Check out our YouTube video on hurricane preparedness at the NRC here.

11 responses to “UPDATED: Hurricanes – And Preparedness — Are In Focus This Month

  1. keithNukeEng. September 6, 2016 at 9:17 am

    For the two people ( that don’t know the design of NPPs) that left comments, check out Cat. 5 Andrew direct hit on Turkey Point, problem? Units safely shutdown end of story, except for the devastation to the surrounding area. Like Fukushima, people seem to NOT care about the lives lost and massive damage, except for the NPPs, which have not killed anyone. Needless evacuation did kill 800-1000 Japanese people, whom I worked with in the ’70’s on Fukushima unit 6. No NPP has been severely damaged by earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc. Even Fukushima was OK for 45 minutes after earthquake, running as designed (on diesels), prior to 45 foot wave.

    • janet azarovitz September 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      What planet are you from? Devastation lightly dismissed?? Of course, we have great sadness over the lives lost but Fukushima is still an existential threat to millions of people and a “test site” for Entergy run nuclear power plants.

      • Marc Paff September 6, 2016 at 4:40 pm

        The corium presumably already re-solidified back in 2011, and is located somewhere in the bottom of the pressure vessels, as already confirmed by muon tomography on several units of Fukushima Daiichi (http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Detectors-confirm-most-fuel-remains-in-unit-2-vessel-2907164.html). While it certainly will cost a lot of time and money to remove this corium, as it did with TMI, I fail to see how this poses any more of an “existential” threat than say living in Pennsylvania during the decade after TMI.

        If we are going to take risk aversion to that extreme, then nobody should live in Japan because it’s extremely prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. But that would be just plain silly.

  2. Janet Azarovitz September 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Really? I’m more concerned about the lack of oversight at the nuclear plants, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in particular. This plant coupled with lack of responsible oversight and immediacy required of a regulatory federal agency whise mandate is to keep the populace and environment safe, has been brought to the brink of catastrophic failure during storms where EVERYONE watold to stay off the roads.

  3. Nikohl Vandel September 1, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Ok, so I just think hurricanes + nuclear power plants = NO! maybe, even a WTF?! NO!!!

    Who would have ever approved building a nuclear project in a hurricane alley? Why would we keep it open? Is ANYONE thinking or maybe just corrupt payoffs is all we’re dealing with?

    Help out #ALostCitizen with what seems to be a stupid government! Help @NRC!

    • Moderator September 1, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Here is a link to a blog post we did a few years ago about nuclear power plants and natural disasters: https://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2014/08/12/natural-hazards-are-part-of-the-planning/


      • Nikohl Vandel September 1, 2016 at 11:08 am

        We can plan better and smarter now, right?! Like, no building near the oceans! Oh, the lessons coming from #fuqafukushima!

      • Nikohl Vandel September 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm

        So, we don’t even let them apply in places like Florida anymore, right?!

    • Marc Paff September 6, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      Nuclear power plants, refineries, and other large industrial plants actually are designed and built to withstand these kinds of severe weather events, so I don’t get your problem. These are multi-billion dollar investments that owners want to protect and minimize downtime for.

      The real “idiocy” is for us to continue to allow residential housing to be built in parts of Florida and elsewhere that are so prone to severe flooding, coastal erosion, massive hurricane damage,…, to the point that these houses are un-insurable because your standard plywood home, unlike a nuclear power plant, will be destroyed in a severe weather event. Stricter zoning and building codes would certainly help mitigate damage to residential areas in future hurricanes. Nuclear power plants, on the other hand, will continue to weather these storms as they have already done for decades.

      • Nikohl Vandel September 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

        Yes, I agree with the residential building, that is like IdiocyJunior, though to our systemic providers’ idiocy and while I REALLY appreciate their investments, unfortunately, today we now know, as most of our citizens are dealing with cancer or some other form of physical reality created by the toxification of our planet by nuclear radiation, fossil fuel refineries and things you wrote about, we need smarter now.

        Our perspective needs to change for certain, large industrial complexes and power plants now be managed and operated in smarter, smaller and alternative ways so THIS toxification isn’t still a problem. We cannot survive more of that done the same way. #COP22 #ParisAgreement

      • Marc Paff September 7, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        @Nikohl_Vandel: Cancer isn’t a new thing. It was already described by ancient Greek and Islamic medical scholars many centuries ago, and has even been shown as cause of death for a number of excavated prehistoric hominids. And (excessive) radiation, obviously, is only one of very many carcinogens. The addition of nuclear power over the past half century is an insignificant addition to the already existing natural background radiation from naturally occurring radioactive materials in the Earth’s crust and cosmic radiation from outer space. All life on Earth has evolved with those radiation background sources already present over billions of years.

        The only significant change in radiation exposure for mankind has been the introduction of nuclear medicine, which for most people in industrialized countries now accounts for half of their annual radiation exposure through things like PET scans, x-rays, and stress tests. And the medical consensus on those procedures tends to be that the benefits of the procedures will far outweigh the potential side effects of a little bit more radiation exposure.

        That being said, despite our species’ rapid industrialization, and at times squalid living conditions and poor medicine over the centuries, the worldwide human population continues to grow and average life expectancy is way higher than it used to be. Just go back to 1930, and US life expectancy was only around 60 years. Go back to the middle ages, and you’d be lucky to have 1 out 4 children make it to adulthood, and 35 was a ripe old age for a peasant.

        I think people don’t appreciate how much our lives have improved (as far as things that can kill us). Food supplies are way safer now thanks to improvements in refrigeration (less spoilage), screening and treatment of food (no more thrichinosis and other meat-borne parasitical diseases), pasteurization of dairy products, and just better food safety standards in general. Nasty things like typhoid fever and tuberculosis were quite common in the US around 1900 due to unsanitary food processing and storage. Of course immunizations have also drastically reduced our chances of dying from all sorts of different diseases. Clean water is another big one. Yeah, no more cholera. https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/publication/global-health-and-aging/living-longer

        I can’t prescribe to your idea that there is some sort of global health catastrophe when people are living longer lives than ever before. If there are any threats to longterm global human health, then they are things like increased cardiovascular diseases due to overeating and sedentary lifestyles. But such diseases are, to a certain degree, easily preventable and treatable.

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