Monday, October 29, 2012

Tracking Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy from space.
Like millions living along the East Coast of the U.S., everyone here at NEI is keeping a close eye at the track of Hurricane Sandy. Although NEI's offices in downtown Washington, D.C. are closed today, my colleagues and I are still working from our homes in the city and the suburbs. Please follow us all day long on our Twitter feed for the latest news impacting our member companies.

As for the nuclear industry as a whole, there are about 20 facilities located on the East Coast that might be impacted by the arrival of the Hurricane. Last night, Matt Wald of the New York Times posted the following about how the industry has prepared over at the NY Times Green blog:
Among the various immobile pieces of infrastructure in the path of the East Coast hurricane are around 20 nuclear reactors, from Calvert Cliffs in southern Maryland to Pilgrim in Plymouth, Mass., and Vermont Yankee, just north of the Massachusetts line in Vernon, Vt. But the industry and regulatory officials say that this is an anticipated challenge.

At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s mid-Atlantic office in King of Prussia, Pa., Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman, said that reactors in the region have undertaken routine preparations. “They all have severe weather procedures,’’ she said. “They’ve gone through their procedures, making sure they have appropriate staff able to be on site, and that anything that’s outside is fastened down.’’

“They’re all designed to withstand the natural phenomena, including hurricanes and what comes with hurricanes — high winds, high water, that kind of thing,’’ she said.

Reactors operate under licenses that require them to shut down if conditions are too severe, and some reactor operators could shut down even before they are required to do so if they choose to, she said. But none had done so by Sunday afternoon. The conditions that would require a shutdown differ from plant to plant and involve factors like wind speed and flooding potential.
For more on how the industry prepares for hurricanes, click here for more information from NEI's website. For a look back at how the industry dealt with Hurricane Irene, click here. In October 2011, NEI's CNO, Tony Pietrangelo, wrote an op-ed for Real Clear Energy on how the industry prepares for extreme events like hurricanes. Finally, I'd also suggest viewing this infographic on how nuclear plants endured a number of extreme events in 2011.

1 comment:

Edward said...

I always wondered why nuclear plants need to shut down when winds reach 75 mph. After all, they are built to withstand much greater forces than than and big storms are exactly when abundant electricity is most needed. Is it to do with the vulnerable infrastructure outside the plant site like aboveground wires? Anybody know?