United States plant operators prepare for Hurricane Florence

Christopher Davidson
September 14, 2018

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) regional incident response centre in Atlanta, Georgia will provide round-the-clock support during the storm.

At least nine nuclear facilities also lie in the storm's path, including Duke Energy's Brunswick nuclear plant in North Carolina.

Nuclear plants have procedures that require they shut a safe amount of time before hurricane force winds of at least 74 miles per hour are expected to reach the site.

According to the NRC, there are specific sets of rules nuclear power plant operators must follow leading up to landfall of a hurricane or tropical storm in the vicinity of the plant.

Brunswick Nuclear Plant and Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant are the closest to where the superstorm will strike, Green added.

Since Fukushima, all US reactors have been upgraded with additional safety equipment, including portable pumps and generators to keep cooling water circulating through the reactor in case the plant loses offsite power.

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Hurricane Florence is also expected to cause widespread environmental damage, including triggering catastrophic waste spills from sewage treatment plants, hog waste lagoons and chicken farms that line the Carolinas coast.

The US National Hurricane Center at 5:00 am EDT today forecast the centre of the hurricane to approach the coasts of North and SC later today, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC overnight and into tomorrow.

"We feel well prepared". United States regulations require nuclear power plants to shut down if a storm is forecast to strike the plant with sustained winds of greater than 73 miles per hour, because of the potential loss of off-site power.

Duke Energy Corp spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Green told Reuters that since the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in 2011, all us nuclear plants have installed more safety equipment, including portable pumps and generators.

The USA's nuclear power plants have weathered hurricanes before.

A Duke Energy report said there were hundreds of "missing or degraded flood barriers".

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