NRC conducting special investigation at Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant in wake of Hurricane Sandy

The 636 MWe GE BWR unit first came online on December 1st, 1969, making it the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has initiated a Special Inspection at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in response to issues that arose when Hurricane Sandy impacted the facility on Oct. 29 and 30.  The inspection will be conducted today at the nuclear site operated by Exelon.

Region I Administrator Bill Dean said that there were, “certain observations involving procedures and on-site activities that surfaced during the event warranting a closer look. This Special Inspection will focus on those areas to gain a better understanding of how the intake water level information was monitored and communicated during the event.”

As water rose in the plant’s water intake structure on Oct. 29, operators declared an “Unusual Event” – the lowest of four levels of emergency classification used by the NRC – at 6:55 p.m. when the level topped 4.5 feet above mean sea level.

Subsequently, at about 8:45 p.m., an “Alert” was declared when the water level was 6 feet above mean sea level at the structure.

The water level rose due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge.

Early on the morning of Oct. 30, the water level had declined to points at which the emergency declarations were terminated.

The NRC will issue a report on the results of the Special Inspection within 45 days of its completion.

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