October 30, 2012 — The 34 nuclear power plants in the path of Hurricane Sandy responded well and safely to storm conditions, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).
As Superstorm Sandy moves beyond the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states after knocking out electricity to seven million customers in 13 states, nuclear plant operators are conducting thorough inspections to ensure that all systems and equipment are ready to maintain the facilities in a safe condition, said the NEI.
Of the 34 nuclear facilities from South Carolina to Vermont in Hurricane Sandy’s path, 24 continued to operate safely and generate electricity throughout the event. Seven were already shut down for refueling or inspection, and three in New Jersey or New York safely shut down, as designed, because of storm conditions or grid disturbances. Inspectors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been stationed at each nuclear energy facility to oversee preparation for and recovery from the storm.
As a precaution, a reactor will be shut down at least two hours before the onset of hurricane-force winds at a site, typically between 70 and 75 miles per hour, according to the NEI.
If there is a loss of off-site power during or following a hurricane, reactors automatically shut down as a precaution and the emergency backup diesel generators will begin operating to provide electrical power to plant safety systems.
The NEI has released the following summary of U.S. nuclear power plant performance during Hurricane Sandy (as of 11 a.m. October 30).
Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.
Oyster Creek—shut down for refueling outage; alert declared Oct. 29 due to high water level at water intake structure
Salem 1—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 30 due to high water level at water intake structure
Peach Bottom 2 and 3—continued operating at 100 percent power
Limerick 1 and 2—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 50 percent and 22 percent respectively on Oct. 30 due to storm effects and at the request of the regional electric grid operator
Perry 1—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 91 percent on Oct. 30 at the request of the regional electric grid operator
Indian Point 3—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 30 due to an electric grid disruption
Nine Mile Point 1—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 29 due to an electric grid disruption
Millstone 3—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 75 percent on Oct. 29 at the request of the electric grid operator.
Seabrook 1—shut down for refueling outage, but safely restarted Oct. 30 and is at 20 percent power.
Vermont Yankee—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 90 percent on Oct. 30 at the request of the regional electric grid operator.