Hurricane Sandy brought trouble to five nuclear power plants in the path of the storm, one just 40 miles from New York City, ABC News reported. The plants were located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
A Level 2 (4 being the highest) alert was declared at America's oldest nuclear power plant, Oyster Creek, in Lacey Township, New Jersey. The alert was called Monday evening after the storm made landfall “due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant's water intake structure,” said Exelon Corporation, owner of the plant. There was “no threat to the public health or safety,” the company said in a statement, although the plant lost power along with millions of other customers in the area. "The station's two backup diesel generators activated immediately,” Exelon said, adding that the company keeps two weeks of diesel fuel on site. Power in the plant is essential to maintaining the system that keeps spent fuel rods from overheating and sending the reactor core into a meltdown.
A unit at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant was manually shut down early Tuesday morning. The plant is also located in New Jersey, on Delaware Bay, about 43 miles from Philadelphia. The shutdown came after “four of the station's six circulating water pumps were no longer available due to weather impacts from Hurricane Sandy,” according to a statement to media by plant co-owner PSEG Nuclear. The plant is stable, PSEG Nuclear said, and “no issues were encountered during the Salem Unit 1 shutdown.” In addition to operating crews on site, the company said, “Salem has designated response teams available.”
Power to unit 3 at the Indian Point plant in Buchanan, NY was automatically shut down Monday night when the connection between the electrical generator and the offsite grid was lost. Entergy, operator of the plant, said in a statement that another unit is continuing to operate and there was no release of radioactivity. There was no threat to public health, a spokesman said, and no damage to equipment.
Also on Monday night, units 1 and 2 shut down at the Nine Mile Point plant near Oswego, NY. Unit 1 shut down automatically due to an electrical fault, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said. Unit 2 shut down due to a power loss from an incoming power line due to the same electrical fault. Power was returned automatically to unit 2 from an emergency diesel generator, and operators are evaluating the cause of the incident, the NRC said. “All plant safety systems responded as designed and the shutdown was safely carried out,” the agency added. The plant is jointly owned by Exelon and a French power firm, in a corporation called CENG.
The least difficult problem was one that occurred at an Exelon reactor at the Limerick Generating Station outside Philadelphia had a problem with its condenser. Technicians there brought operations down to 91 percent power to deal with the problem.
An aerial view photographed by search and rescue missions from the New Jersey Army National Guard showed the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the state's coastal region. The shot taken a member of the 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion on October 30 showed homes and highways submerged by the ocean that had broken through barriers and rushed over the coastline.