September 17, 2018 / 5:36 PM / a month ago

Duke Energy's Brunswick nuclear plant stranded by flooding from Florence

Sept 17 (Reuters) - Duke Energy Corp said Monday that its Brunswick nuclear power plant in North Carolina was inaccessible due to flooding from storm Florence, but the plant remained safely shut down.

The remnants of Florence, which came ashore as a hurricane on Friday, is still dropping heavy amounts of rain on the already waterlogged Carolinas on Monday, with officials warning the worst is yet to come as swollen rivers pose a growing threat.

Duke said: "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," according to an event report made available on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website on Monday.

Officials at Duke said the plant remained safely shut down on Monday. Duke started shutting the two reactors at the 1,870-megawatt plant on Thursday, before the storm hit the coast. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

Brunswick is located about four miles (6.4 km) from the coast, near the town of Southport about 30 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina. It sits about 20 feet (6.1 meters) above sea level.

Nuclear plants have procedures that require they shut a safe amount of time before hurricane force winds are expected to reach the site.

The two reactors at the plant, which entered service in 1975 and 1977, are of similar design to some of the reactors damaged at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Since Fukushima, all U.S. reactors have been upgraded with additional safety equipment, including portable pumps and generators to keep cooling water circulating through the reactor in case the plant loses offsite power.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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