8:20 p.m. Update:
Exelon Corporation declared an Unusual Event at 7 p.m. at Oyster Creek Generating Station after water levels in the plant’s intake structure reached higher than normal levels, a news release said.
“This is an anticipated declaration required by procedures and is the result of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the region,” the news release said. “There is no challenge to the safety of the plant. Oyster Creek is currently shut down for planned maintenance and refueling.”
An Unusual Event is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“There is no danger to the public or plant employees associated with this declaration,” the release said.
Spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio explained the there’s a horseshoe that goes around the plant where half the water goes in and half the water goes out into the Barnegat Bay. The water at the intake canal has reached a high level, she said.
“It’s more of level of awareness,” she said.
Water levels also hit a higher than normal level in 1991 and 1992 when similar storms struck Lacey Township, she said. Unusual Events were also declared.
“We’re safe and sturdy,” D’Ambrosio said.
As a result of the declaration, all appropriate federal, state and local emergency response officials were notified.
3:36 p.m. Update:
Oyster Creek Generating Station continues to operate smoothly through the beginning stages of Hurricane Sandy, spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio said.
The plant was already shut down for a planned refueling outage that was scheduled prior to Sandy. The generator was removed from service at midnight on Monday, Oct. 22.
“Because we had so much forewarning, we had plenty of time to make plans and prepare,” D’Ambrosio said.
The plant has established two teams—a night team and day team.
“We have on site essential personnel,” she said. “Safety is foremost.”
Oyster Creek is providing accommodations for those teams including beds, food and shower facilities, D’Ambrosio said. Those currently working at the plant are experts in various areas.
“They’re doing what they normally do,” she said. While they work as usual, the employees are prepared to take action if the plant is at all impacted.
The plant shut down in 2011 for Hurricane Irene.
“Oyster Creek is a robust facility and it is designed to withstand that which Mother Nature dishes out,” D’Ambrosio said.
Oyster Creek is the oldest operating nuclear plant in the country and provides enough around-the-clock electricity for 600,000 New Jersey homes and began commercial operations in 1969.