Nukes Handle Irene with Aplomb

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 02:08 PM gHale

Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc upon most of the East Coast, but over 12 nuclear plants in its path came out of the monstrous storm without losing power to their reactors.

Two reactors went offline because of the storm; one in New Jersey as a precaution and one in Maryland after damage from storm-blown debris triggered an automatic shutdown, said the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Calvert Cliffs plant, near Lusby, MD, was the only station to suffer damage from Irene, the NRC said. Constellation declared an “unusual event, the lowest of four emergency classifications, after Irene’s winds sent a piece of aluminum siding crashing into the main transformer at the site.

Constellation called off the emergency, but the reactor remained offline.

”There was never a threat to the public; the site remains stable and secure,” Constellation said.

Another nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs continued to operate at 100 percent capacity through the storm, the company said.

Exelon Corp.’s Oyster Creek plant near Toms River, NJ, shut down in anticipation of hurricane-force winds, Exelon said.

Dominion Resources Inc.’s Millstone nuclear plant, which sits on a peninsula on Long Island Sound, ended up spared from the storm as Irene took a westerly track, said Ken Holt, a spokesman for the plant.

Dominion did not need to shut down the two reactors at the Waterstone, CT-based power plant, which are currently operating at 50 percent, Holt said. The plant didn’t get winds as high as had been predicted, he said.

Progress Energy Inc.’ Brunswick nuclear plant in North Carolina also reduced its power output as Irene approached.

All other U.S. nuclear plants were operating normally and at full capacity, the NRC said.

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