America's oldest nuclear power plant is on alert after waters reached high levels. Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, New Jersey, was already offline for maintenance but declared "an unusual event" after storm waters increased. Two hours later, at 9pm ET, an "alert" was issued, the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system. Officials say the water is likely to recede in a couple of hours
Oyster Creek, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Atlantic City, generates 630 megawatts (MW), or enough electricity to power 600,000 households. Situated about a mile inland from the brackish inlet of the Atlantic Ocean known as Barnegat Bay, it shares the same design as Japan's tsunami-crippled coastal nuclear plant, Fukushima Daiichi. But industry officials and regulators argued today that Oyster Creek and two dozen other nuclear plants in the path of the unprecedented storm were prepared to withstand the worst. Oyster Creek declared an alert Monday night, citing "water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure," according to a release from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Preparations began at Oyster Creek "as soon as we learned the storm had even the smallest potential of crossing our path," said Suzanne D'Ambrosio, spokeswoman for Exelon, the plant operator. The plant, in fact, is not generating power; it was shut down last week for refueling, a process that takes place once every two years. Nevertheless, she said about 300 workers are sequestered at the plant to shepherd it through the storm, even as many of the surrounding areas were evacuated, including Long Beach Island, the barrier island that separates the bay from the Atlantic. "We are prepared to protect our plant, our workers and the public no matter what this storm throws at us," said Oyster Creek Site Vice President Michael Massaro, in a statement.
When winds greater than 75 miles per hour are expected, U.S. nuclear power plants are required to shut down. This is not for fear that the winds will damage the plant, but because of the likelihood that the surrounding electrical grid will fail, forcing it to rely on backup diesel generators to power its cooling systems. Oyster Creek shut down for this reason in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene whipped the Atlantic coast. "This is nothing new—these plants have been through it all before, tornadoes, high winds, flooding conditions," Kaufmann said. In the wake of Fukushima, the U.S. nuclear industry has pledged to bring additional backup equipment such as generators, pumps, hoses, and batteries to keep plants operating in case of loss of power or water, but that deployment is still under way.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says an "unusual event" was declared around 7 p.m. when water reached a high level. The situation was upgraded less than two hours later to an "alert," the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system. Federal officials say all nuclear plants are still in safe condition. They say water levels near Oyster Creek, which is along the Atlantic Ocean, will likely recede within a few hours. Oyster Creek went online in 1969 and provides 9 percent of New Jersey's electricity.
Originally posted by Sablicious
The irony of the US being 'nuked' by its own reactors, beating the Iranians to the punch, is not lost on this random, non entity poster...