Duke Energy shutting down Brunswick nuclear plant ahead of Florence

Hurricane Florence on path to hit nuclear power plants in North Carolina

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, said the hurricane is expected to stall out after making landfall, and flood inland areas with rain in central and western parts of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Nuclear power plants have multiple and diverse layers of protection, including numerous mobile emergency pumps and electrical generators for backup power.

As of 11 a.m. Hurricane Florence was about 485 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C., with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.

According to the NRC, there are specific sets of rules nuclear power plant operators must follow leading up to landfall of a hurricane or tropical storm in the vicinity of the plant.

"Brunswick is closest to the eye, but every reactor exposed to hurricane-force winds will be shut down", said U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Joey Ledford told Weather.com.

Six power plants in North and SC appear set to be smashed by the Category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall on Friday, according to Duke Energy spokeswoman Mary Green.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists, said it was anxious about the Brunswick plant's capabilities to weather out the storm.

"Those power plants are, one, obviously hardened".

Bobby Brown, 50, with his granddaughter Lyric, 1, during a power outage in Florence, South Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018.

In addition to keeping up to date on the storm conditions (wind speeds, rainfall amounts, storm surge, etc), staff are required to inspect the entire site for equipment that may be moved by the storm's winds, and secure doors and water supply lines. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.

With a major storm bearing down on these power plants, some thoughts are turning back to 2011, when Japan's Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant was impacted in the wake of the devastating March 11 quake and tsunami. The company last shut Brunswick due to hurricane force winds in the 1990s, she said.

The cyclone is one of the most powerful hurricanes to have formed in the Atlantic this year.

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