US nuclear plants withstand Irene

Hurricane Irene may have battered much of the US but it appears most nuclear plants escaped damage. Although millions suffered power failures from downed cables and blown transmission networks only […]

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By Sumit Bose

Hurricane Irene may have battered much of the US but it appears most nuclear plants escaped damage. Although millions suffered power failures from downed cables and blown transmission networks only a few nuclear power stations were affected according to the US regulatory authorities.

The worst was Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs 1 reactor which automatically and safely shut down when a large piece of aluminum struck a transformer. The power station immediately declared an “unusual event”, the lowest of four emergency classifications but the reactor is still off-line.

In North Carolina: Brunswick 1 and 2 temporarily reduced power output to 65 percent. In New Jersey Oyster Creek was manually taken off-line as a precaution.

Pennsylvania’s famous Three Mile Island, which suffered a major accident in the late 1970s, continued operating at one hundred percent power. Reactors in New York, Virigina and Vermont were unaffected.

“Nuclear energy facilities in the path of Hurricane Irene have responded well and responded safely to this storm,” said Scott Peterson, senior vice president at the Nuclear Energy Institute. He added: “In the aftermath of the storm, operators are undertaking complete inspections of nuclear energy facilities to ensure that systems and equipment were not affected by the storm and that the plant’s condition is safe.”