September 11, 2018 / 9:05 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. nuclear power plants prepare for Hurricane Florence

 (Adds background on Brunswick nuclear plant and Fukushima
    Sept 11 (Reuters) - Several nuclear power reactors in North
and South Carolina and Virginia on Tuesday started to prepare
for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit the coast as a
major hurricane on Friday.
    The storm threatened to make landfall with massive waves and
winds of up to 130 mile per hour (209 km per hour), making it a
Category 3 or 4 storm on a five-step scale, the National
Hurricane Center in Miami warned.
    There are 16 nuclear reactors in North Carolina, South
Carolina and Virginia, the states expected to suffer the most
damage from Florence. 
    Florence will most likely affect Duke Energy Corp's
1,870-megawatt (MW) Brunswick and 932-MW Harris nuclear plants
in North Carolina and, if it turns north, Dominion Energy Inc's
 1,676-MW Surry plant in Virginia, Roger Hannah, spokesman
for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Region 2
office in Atlanta said on Tuesday.
    One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.
    Duke said it could take days to several weeks to restore
power to all customers after a storm like Florence depending on
the extent of damage and post-storm conditions.
    "We anticipate Hurricane Florence to be a historic storm
that will impact all customers," said Grace Rountree, a
spokeswoman for the company. Duke serves 4 million customers in
the Carolinas.
    Duke's Brunswick nuclear plant is located near Southport,
which is close to where Florence is expected to hit. It is about
4 miles (6 km) from the coast and about 30 miles south of
Wilmington, North Carolina. The NRC said in a 2004 report that
all of the safety-related structures at Brunswick were
waterproof up to 22 feet (6.7 meters) above sea level.
    Several hurricanes have passed close to Brunswick since the
two reactors there entered service in 1975 and 1977, including
Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Diana in 1984, both Category 3
storms. Hurricane Hugo, a powerful Category 4 storm, made
landfall about 150 miles southwest of Brunswick in South
Carolina in 1989.
    Duke spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Green said that since the
accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in 2011 all
U.S. nuclear plants have installed more safety equipment,
including portable pumps and generators.
    To prepare for the storm, nuclear operators check on backup
diesel generators to make sure they have enough fuel, conduct
site walk downs and secure any loose equipment that could become
a projectile in the wind, said Hannah at the NRC. 
    "Most of the plants have gone through or are going through
their pre-storm preparations now," Hannah said.
    About 12 hours before the hurricane arrives, the reactors at
the nuclear plants will be shut down, Hannah said.
 Plant          Size (MW)  State  Owner
 Brunswick 1       938      NC    Duke
 Brunswick 2       932      NC    Duke
 Catawba 1        1160      NC    Duke
 Catawba 2        1150      NC    Duke
 McGuire 1        1158      NC    Duke
 McGuire 2        1158      NC    Duke
 Harris            932      NC    Duke
 Oconee 1          847      SC    Duke
 Oconee 2          848      SC    Duke
 Oconee 3          859      SC    Duke
 Robinson 2        741      SC    Duke
 Summer            971      SC    Scana
 North Anna 1      948      VA    Dominion
 North Anna 2      944      VA    Dominion
 Surry 1           838      VA    Dominion
 Surry 2           838      VA    Dominion
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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