North Carolina has about five nuclear power plants and at least one of them is in the cross-hairs of the "eye" of Hurricane Florence.
Fears are now escalating that STORM SURGE of 22-33 FEET above normal high tide, could replicate the exact same type of flooding which took-out emergency generators at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan, in March, 2011, causing the same loss of power, same loss of reactor cooling, same meltdowns and explosions!
The Duke Energy Brunswick Nuclear Plant is situated about three miles west of the Atlantic Ocean on North Carolina's coast as shown on the map above.
General Electric Mark 4 nuclear reactor generating stations, Brunswick 1 and 2 are right in the line of Hurricane Florence landfall, North Carolina. If the projected path of Florence is correct, with wave heights exceeding 40 ft. this is a potential disaster, Fukushima style!!! They are both the same containment design as Japan’s failed reactors, meltdown / melt thru. They are still running at full capacity.
Here's a photo of the nuclear power plant:
The plant is on the banks of the Cape Fear River as seen on the map below:
Here's a view of it from river level:
The land on which this nuclear plant exists is only 15-20 feet above sea level. THAT is a potentially deadly problem today because Hurricane Florence is barreling her way across the Atlantic Ocean right now at Category 5 strength, with SUSTAINED winds of over 156 Miles per hour.
As Florence approaches the coast of North Carolina, the wind will literally push ocean water into shore; it's a process known as Storm Surge.
All credible computer models, which use data from hundreds of hurricanes over 100+ years of data, show that when a category 4 Hurricane comes ashore, there is USUALLY a storm surge of about 20-22 FEET of flooding water driven ashore. When a Category 5 Hurricane comes ashore - something which has only happened THREE times in all of US History -- the storm surge can be up to 33 feet.
Storm surge inundation maps for the U.S. coast, computed using NOAA’s SLOSH model, tell a frightening story. According to Dr. Jeff Masters, who co-founded Weather Underground in 1995, and flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990, depending on where its center makes landfall, a mid-strength Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds hitting at high tide, in a worst-case scenario, can generate a storm tide in excess of twenty feet above ground level along the entire coast of South Carolina, and along most of the coast of southern North Carolina from the South Carolina border to Morehead City. Many locations could see a higher surge, of up to 27 feet. And a Category 5 storm is much worse: a theoretical peak storm tide of 33 feet is predicted by the SLOSH model (Shown Below) for the Intracoastal Waterway north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. These peak surges occur over a 10 - 40 mile stretch of coast where the right eyewall makes landfall. If Florence were to make landfall near Wilmington, NC, for example, the highest surges would extend northeastward to around Jacksonville, NC.
Here is the official "SLOSH" Model from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing the storm surge directly inundating the Brunswick Nuclear plant by coming up the Cape Fear River and flooding it from behind:
As this story is published, Florence has already reached Category 4 strength and readings are already indicating she is rapidly intensifying to Category 5 strength.
She may come ashore at Category 5.
With 33 feet of storm surge.
Hitting a nuclear power plant that is only about 15-20 feet above sea level. Do the math.
The nuclear plant is likely to be utterly INUNDATED by storm surge waters.
The last time on earth that a nuclear power plant suffered catastrophic flooding was after a Magnitude 9.2 earthquake in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of japan in March, 2011. The earthquake caused a Tsunami which came ashore and blasted right over the 45' tall sea wall which "protected" the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant.
As the water flooded into the plant, it entered the room containing the back-up diesel generators designed to power the reactor cooling pumps in the event electricity was lost. The water prevented the generators from operating.
When back-up battery power ran out, the cooling pumps shut down.
Without cooing water flowing into the reactor, it began to overheat.
As pressure built up from the water boiling-off in the reactor chamber, the chamber exploded from steam pressure. The explosion caused loss of all cooling water to the reactor core.
The core was so hot, it melted itself. Then the 150 tons of nuclear fuel began melting through the bottom of the reactor chamber, through the floor below, then through the concrete foundation beneath it and into the ground.
Fukushima released so much radiation from this situation, that clouds of radioactivity literally circled the planet, reaching the west coast of the US in five days, and the EAST Coast of the US three days after that.
To this very day, 7 years later, one of the three reactors which melted down is so contaminated, no work can be done inside that reactor building because radiation would KILL anyone who goes inside after just a few minutes.
Worse, ground water which travels beneath Fukushima, comes in contact with the melted reactor fuel and becomes radioactive. This deadly radioactive water then continues underground until it enters the Pacific Ocean. Since the day these reactors melted down, Fukushima has spewed 300 TONS of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean EACH AND EVERY DAY to this present moment.
The radiation is killing much sea life in the Pacific as it makes it way toward the US West Coast.
THIS IS THE FEAR FOR THE NORTH CAROLINA NUCLEAR PLANT.
When Hurricane Florence comes ashore, either at Category 4 or 5, she will bring storm surge. That surge is VERY LIKELY to overwhelm the 15-20 feet of land above sea level and begin flooding the reactor facility.
This diagram from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission shows the precise layout of the Reactors at this plant:
Notice WHERE the emergency water supply pump systems are? At the very bottom outside the containment vessel; where floodwaters can cover them and cause them to stop pumping!
If the storm surge floods the emergency generators and causes the cooling pumps to fail or shut down, THIS plant can meltdown and explode just like Fukushima did.
And the same way that massive radiation spewed from Fukushima, it could also spew from North Carolina.
The same way ground water from Fukushima is killing the Pacific Ocean, ground water from a meltdown in North Carolina could kill the Atlantic Ocean.
We are just days away from finding out if another global nuclear disaster will take place, this time on the shore of North Carolina.