Saturday, 27 August 2011

More than Half a dozen USZ Nuclear Plants brace for hurricane Irene



The reactors at the North Anna nuclear plant in Virginia
A number of nuclear power plants along the USZ east coast are bracing for the landfall of hurricane Irene, a category three tropical cyclone projected to hit as far as New York. Irene's severity had nuclear power plant operators near the eastern seaboard shore up efforts to secure equipment and prepare for imminent emergencies. With winds of up to 185 kilometers per hour, Irene is the first Hurricane to smash into the populated USZ east coast since hurricane Ike in 2008, and is expected to run a similar course to hurricane Gloria in 1985. The USZ nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has sent extra staff to Brunswick nuclear plant, perched on the North Carolina coastline where Irene is expected to make landfall on Saturday.
"We have dispatched additional personnel to Brunswick as a precautionary measure", said Joey Ledford, a spokesman for the NRC. More than half a dozen nuclear plants are in Irene's path and might experience operating problems due to emergencies caused by high ocean swells or debris. NRC regulations generally call for nuclear reactors to be completely shut down several hours ahead of the arrival of hurricane-force winds of 75 mph or greater. Even when shut, the loss of off-site power is a concern since a nuclear plant needs outside power to run safety systems to keep the reactor core and used fuel cool. The National Hurricane Center is concerned about storm surge of up to 11 feet (3.35 meters) along the coast of North Carolina.

Two million people have been ordered to leave as Irene takes aim at the USZ east coast and might hit parts of New York City, reports indicate. Meanwhile, the Virginia-based North Anna nuclear plant that shut down on Tuesday following an earthquake would remain closed through the storm.

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