[ABC] Nuclear Plants in Sandy’s Path Brace for Storm

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The federal government will provide “enhanced oversight” for nine different nuclear power plants in the path of Hurricane Sandy, including Three Mile Island and New York’s Indian Point.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said each plant is overseen by at least two NRC resident inspectors and the agency will have additional inspectors ready to be sent in response to the storm. The NRC is also monitoring the plants from its Incident Response Center in Pennsylvania and its Operations Center at its headquarters in Maryland.

In addition to Indian Point, which is north of New York City, and Three Mile Island, the Pennsylvania plant famous for a partial meltdown in 1979, the facilities receiving the “enhanced oversight” include the Salem, Hope Creek and Oyster Creek nuclear plants in southern New Jersey; Peach Bottom and Susquehanna in Pennsylvania, Calvert Cliffs in Maryland and Millstone in Connecticut.

“Nuclear power plant procedures require that the facilities be shut down prior to any projected hurricane-force winds on-site,” said the NRC.

The agency noted that the plants have emergency diesel generators are available if off-site power is lost during the storm.

“Also, all plants have flood protection above the predicted storm surge,” said the NRC, “and key components and systems are housed in watertight buildings capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds and flooding.”

The Oyster Creek and Salem plants are close to where Sandy is expected to make landfall in Delaware and New Jersey late Monday, but their reactors have already been shut down for maintenance, as has the Susquehanna plant in Pennsylvania.

Jim Steets, the communications director for Entergy, which runs Indian Point, said that while they could experience flooding “greater than historically experienced,” the plant is “still positioned well above that.” Steets said that if conditions change and the storm takes a more threatening turn “such that we need to shut down the plant, we’ll do that.”

Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant released radioactivity in March 2011 after an earthquake and tsunami there were followed by a meltdown.

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