Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant, about 30 miles south of Wilmington, has declared a state of emergency as the 1,200-acre complex remains cut off by flood waters and and is inaccessible to outside personnel.
Just as I warned a week ago, The News & Observer reports, at this time, no one can come in and relieve the Duke Energy workers and NRC “storm riders” who have been on site for days, NRC spokesman Joey Ledford said. And it would not be possible to evacuate the 10-mile emergency evacuation zone around the site if a higher level of emergency were declared.
“None of the roads are passable,” Ledford said.
“The plant is safe. The reactors are in hot stand-by mode 3 shutdown.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being tight-lipped about an “unusual event” which occurred at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant last Saturday which forced a “hot shutdown” of both the plant’s Generation IV-type reactors 1 and 2.
The NRC classified the emergency as an “unusual event” but provided little to no details on the situation. (HT Note: It was my understanding at the time that the NRC decided the plant should be shut down BEFORE the Hurricane arrived with the hope to be able to better manage any troubles at the facility due to anticipated flooding. So to me, the shutdown was the right thing to do.)
Additionally, the NRC reports that weather conditions from Tropical Storm Florence are currently preventing workers from accessing the plant.
“A hazardous event has resulted in on site conditions sufficient to prohibit the plant staff from accessing the site via personal vehicles due to flooding of local roads by Tropical Storm Florence.”
From the NRC regarding Event 53609:
The current rector mode is showing as “hot shutdown” and more rain is on the way.
River waters in the area are expected to rise as much as 20 feet in the coming days. Not to mention, local dams in the area may to capacity. (Several dams have already failed elsewhere in North Carolina)
Brunswick is equipped with emergency backup diesel generators to operate essential equipment if the facility lost off-site power from the grid. Ledford said that the reactors never lost power and the generators never had to be activated.