12 Nuclear Reactors on East Coast Brace for Possible Loss of Off-Site Power from Hurricane Irene’s Wrath

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Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) — More than a dozen nuclear reactors along the U.S. East Coast are being prepared for potential loss of power and damage from high winds and storm surges as Hurricane Irene bears down on the region….

Irene, a Category 3 hurricane, is on track to become the first major storm to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Ike in 2008, following a similar path to Gloria in 1985, which swept through New York City into New England.

The storm’s winds pose a greater threat to the switch yards and power lines that support a nuclear plant than the reactors themselves, which sit beneath containment structures of steel- reinforced concrete, Alex Marion, vice president of nuclear operations for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, said in an interview.

PJM Interconnection LLC, the grid operator that coordinates electricity transmission across much of the region in Irene’s anticipated path, is preparing for power outages caused by storm winds and falling tree branches, Ray Dotter, PJM’s spokesman.

Other plants, including Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Calvert Cliffs facility in Maryland, and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.‘s Hope Creek and Salem facilities in southern New Jersey are at risk of losing power from the electric grid, depending on the storm’s path, he said.

“They’re all at risk of a loss of off-site power,” Riccio said. If that happens, diesel generators are supposed to automatically kick in.

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