The Department of Environmental Protection and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are monitoring the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on operations at Oyster Creek Generating Station, a news release from the Gov. Chris Christie’s office said.
The nuclear power plant suffered power outages and declared an “alert” on Monday night due to the rising water levels as a result of high tides, wind direction and storm surge. The plant also lost a portion of its warning alarm system.
An NRC statement noted that Oyster Creek remains in “safe condition” and the federal agency anticipates that water levels will abate within several hours.
The plant experienced a power disruption in the station’s switchyard. The station’s two backup diesel generators activated immediately and continue to provide a stable supply of power to the station’s systems, a news release from Oyster Creek said. There are more than two weeks of diesel fuel on site.
A combustion turbine engine is also being utilized along with the generators to provide energy for water pumps that cool the fuel stored in the reactor until normal power sources are restored, a news release from Christie’s office said.
Oyster Creek also announced that 21 of its warning sirens in its service area lost operability. The plant reported the conditions to the state Department of Environmental Protection, NRC and the state Office of Emergency Management.
Efforts are being made to restore operability to all sirens, Christie’s news release said.
Technicians are working to restore power to Oyster Creek’s switchyard. Exelon Corporation, the owner and operator of Oyster Creek, has on-site and off-site emergency operations centers to continue to monitor the weather and plant conditions.
An "alert" is the second lowest of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. the lowest classification, as the water levels at the intake structure began to rise.
The NRC has an additional inspector stationed at Oyster Creek, a news release from the federal agency said. The inspector is verifying that plant operators are making proper preparations, following relevant procedures and taking appropriate actions to ensure the plant’s safety during and after the storm.
Typically nuclear power plants are overseen by at least two NRC Resident Inspectors, the news release said. Additional inspectors were dispatched the nuclear power plants to provide support and others will be on standby.
The on-site inspectors are equipped with satellite phones to ensure that lines of communications are maintained.
Nuclear power plants are required to shut down prior to projected hurricane-force winds, the NRC said.
Oyster Creek was shut down on Monday, Oct. 22 for a refueling outage.
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.