Hurricane Sandy triggers nuclear power plant alert
NEW YORK: US nuclear power plants declared an ‘alert’ after the deadly hurricane Sandy shut down six power plants. The storm enabled the flood waters to reach a high level which imposed a high threat to the key cooling system of the plant.
Exelon Corp`s 43-year-old Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey remains on "alert" status, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said early Tuesday.
"Oyster Creek is still in an alert but may be getting out of it as long as water levels continue to drop," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
The water levels rose more than 6.5 feet above normal, alarming the "water intake structure" that pumps cooling water through the plant.
As a precautionary measure Exelon also moved a portable pump to the intake structure in case it is required.
The water levels reached a peak of 7.4 feet -- apparently above the threshold -- but the pump motors did not flood, Sheehan said. As of 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday the water level was down to 5.8 feet, with the next high tide at 11:45 a.m.
"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 do not mean that they are in an imminent threat at the plant," Fugate said.
The incident at Oyster Creek, which is about 60 miles east of Philadelphia on the New Jersey Coast, came as Sandy made landfall as the largest Atlantic storm ever, bringing up to 90 mile per hour (mph) winds and 13-foot storm surges in the biggest test of the industry`s emergency preparedness since the Fukushima disaster in Japan a year and a half ago.