Video footage shows floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy rushing into the Hoboken
station in New Jersey through an elevator shaft on Tuesday. (Reuters)
New York, Oct. 30 (Reuters): Hurricane Sandy slowed or shut half-a-dozen US nuclear power plants, while the nation’s oldest facility declared a rare “alert” after the record storm surge pushed flood waters high enough to endanger a key cooling system.
Exelon Corp’s 43-year-old New Jersey Oyster Creek plant remains on “alert” status, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said early today. It is only the third time this year that the second-lowest of four emergency action levels was triggered. The alert came after water levels at the plant rose by more than 2 metres above normal, potentially affecting the “water intake structure” that pumps cooling water through the plant, an NRC spokesman said.
Those pumps are not essential since the reactor has been shut for planned refuelling since October 22. However, a further rise to 7 feet could submerge the service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent fuel pool, potentially forcing it to use emergency water supplies from the in-house fire suppression system to keep the rods from overheating.
Today, an NRC spokesman said the levels reached a peak of 7.4 feet Ä apparently above the threshold. As of 6.10am (local time) waters were at 6.5 feet, with the next high tide at 11.45 am (local time). He said the company had moved a portable pump to the water intake structure as a precaution, but has not needed to use it. Exelon said in a statement that there was no danger to equipment and no threat to public health or safety.
“Right now there's no imminent threat of releases. There's no protective actions around the plant,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said on the Today Show. “Some of these reporting requirements are due though to the severity of the storms. That they have to make these notifications based upon conditions, that does not mean that they are in an imminent threat at the plant,” Fugate said.
The incident at Oyster Creek, which is about 95km east of Philadelphia on the New Jersey coast, came as Sandy made landfall as the largest Atlantic storm ever, bringing up to 90kmph winds and 13-foot storm surges in the biggest test of the industry's emergency preparedness since the Fukushima disaster.
State by state
Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel flooded, along with entire neighbourhoods in Lower Manhattan. Widespread power outages
ore than 300,000 without power. Storm surges of 6 to 12 feet are expected along with about a foot of rain
High winds prompted the governor to shut down highways and ban truck traffic. Long-term, widespread power failures expected
Coastal flooding. Hurricane-force winds expected. Most highways closed
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Metro subway trains and buses out of service
Evacuation orders for Ocean City’s most flood-prone neighbourhoods
struction across hundreds of miles. Mutiny on the Bounty ship sinks.
Shelters for 10,000 people who live in
More than 80,000 people were without power
Significant flooding in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Heavy snow in elevated parts
Rain and heavy, wet snow fell more and more steadily. Blizzard expected