Editor's Note: There is a more recent update, the NRC says don't freak out about this alert.
Exelon Corp declared an "alert" at its New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear
power plant due to a record storm surge, the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission said on Monday, warning that a further rise in water levels
could force operators to use emergency water supplies from a fire hose
to cool spent uranium fuel rods.
The alert -- the second lowest
of four NRC action levels -- came after water levels at the plant rose
by more than 6.5 feet, potentially affecting the pumps that circulate
water through the plant, an NRC spokesman said.
pumps are not essential since the plant is shut for planned refueling
at the moment. However a further rise to 7 feet could submerge the
service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent
The spokesman said the
company could use water from a fire hose to cool the pool if necessary.
The used uranium rods in the pool could cause the water to boil within
25 hours without additional coolant; in an extreme scenario the rods
could overheat, risking the eventual release of radiation.
The NRC said in a statement that it expected water levels would begin to abate within the next several hours.
made landfall earlier in the evening as the most powerful Atlantic
storm to hit the United States, bringing an over 13-foot storm surge.
have been about a dozen instances of alert-level nuclear incidents in
the past four years, according to NRC press releases. An alert-level
incident means there is a "potential substantial degradation in the
level of safety" at a reactor.
concerns over the status of the spent fuel pool at Oyster Creek were
reminiscent of the fears that followed the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year, when helicopters and fire hoses were enlisted to ensure the pools remained filled with fresh, cool water.
The nuclear industry has said that the spent fuel rods at Fukushima were never exposed to the air.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Ed Davies)
Editor's Note: Oyster Creek shown in map below.
View Live Ustream Radiation Detectors in a larger map
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