Hurricanes Not a Problem for Nuclear Power

NASA-NOAA satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean captured on September 11, 2018 at 11:45 AM EDT showing Hurricane Florence approaching the east coast with Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene fast on her heels.NASA/NOAA

Dr, James Conca explains in his Forbes article Hurricane Florence No Problem For Nuclear Power Plants  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Along with most everyone else, nuclear power plants in North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia, have been preparing for the natural onslaught.

Hurricane Florence will most likely hit two nuclear power plants operated by Duke Energy – their 1,870 megawatt (MW) Brunswick and 932MW Harris nuclear plants in North Carolina. If Florence turns north, it could also hit Dominion Energy’s 1,676MW Surry plant in Virginia. Brunswick is expected to get a direct hit.

The Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant, two miles north of Southport, North Carolina will get a direct hit by Hurricane Florence. But there’s no worry as nuclear plants are the most resistant to severe weather of all energy sources. The plant produces over 15 billion kWhs a year and provides power to over 4 million people.DOC SEARLS

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is watching carefully. But no one is really worried that much will happen, contrary to lots of antinuclear fearmongering. Power outages will occur as lines and transformers are destroyed and non-nuclear buildings get damaged, and it might takes a few days to a few weeks to bring power back up, something that includes all energy sources.

‘We anticipate Hurricane Florence to be an historic storm that will impact all customers,’ said Grace Rountree, a spokeswoman for Duke. These reactors provide power to about 4 million customers in the two Carolinas.

The Brunswick plant has withstood several hurricanes since the two reactors there began operation in the mid-1970s, including Category 3 Hurricane Diana in 1984 and Category 3 Hurricane Fran in 1996. Category 4 Hurricane Hugo, the most often-compared with Florence, made landfall about 150 miles southwest of Brunswick in South Carolina in 1989.

Following protocols, the reactors at the nuclear plants have started shutting down before the hurricane is scheduled to arrive. While all nuclear reactors are protected against extreme winds, including tornado-strength gusts up to 300 mph, they shut down as a protective measure.

Food, water and other necessities are kept onsite at these nuclear plants to prepare for potential isolation of the site, and staff needed during the storm are brought in to ensure proper resources are available for an extended period.

The Carolinas have a heavy concentration of power reactors – 12 of the country’s 99 reactors. Four more reactors are in Virginia and five are in coastal Delaware and Maryland. These reactors provide enough electricity to power 30 cities the size of Raleigh.

Nuclear is the only energy source immune to all extreme weather events – by design. Plants have steel-reinforced concrete containments with over 4-foot thick walls. The buildings housing the reactors, vital equipment and used fuel have steel-reinforced concrete walls up to 7 feet thick, which are built to withstand any category hurricane or tornado. They can even withstand a plane flying directly into them.

Whether it’s hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, heat waves or severe cold, nuclear performs more reliably than anything else. There’s no better reason to retain our nuclear fleet, and even expand it, to give us a diverse energy mix that can handle any natural disaster that can occur.

James Conca

I have been a scientist in the field of the earth and environmental sciences for 33 years, specializing in geologic disposal of nuclear waste, energy-related research, planetary surface processes, radiobiology and shielding for space colonies, subsurface transport and environmental clean-up of heavy metals. I am a Trustee of the Herbert M. Parker Foundation, Adjunct at WSU, an Affiliate Scientist at LANL and consult on strategic planning for the DOE, EPA/State environmental agencies, and industry including companies that own nuclear, hydro, wind farms, large solar arrays, coal and gas plants. I also consult for EPA/State environmental agencies and industry on clean-up of heavy metals from soil and water. For over 25 years I have been a member of Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund and many others, as well as professional societies including the America Nuclear Society, the American Chemical Society, the Geological Society of America and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

via Science Matters

September 13, 2018 at 08:04AM

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