September 12, 2018 RSS
Brunswick and Surry May Be Vulnerable to Flooding
WASHINGTON (September 12, 2018)—At least two nuclear power plants may be in harm’s way when Hurricane Florence hits the East Coast later this week: Brunswick near Wilmington, North Carolina, and Surry near Williamsburg, Virginia. Both are vulnerable to hurricane-force winds and flooding, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), but just how vulnerable is difficult to say.
There is not a clear picture of either plant’s vulnerabilities because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has withheld key flood protection preparedness reports it required in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, where flooding caused three reactor core meltdowns. However, both Brunswick and Surry have had potentially serious problems that their owners may or may not have fixed.
Brunswick owner Duke Energy reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in November 2012 that there were hundreds of missing or degraded flood barriers at the plant. The company’s follow-up flood hazard reevaluation report, which it sent to the NRC in March 2015, is not publicly available, so there is no way to confirm that Duke replaced or repaired the barriers.
The NRC’s March 2017 summary assessment of Duke’s 2015 flood hazard reevaluation report states that the company underestimated the potential peak flood height from storm surge at the plant’s safety related buildings, including the buildings housing the plant’s two reactors, by nearly 8 feet.