Sandy slows US nuclear plants, oldest in US declares alert: morning-after update

Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey was placed on "alert" status last night, after a storm surge from Sandy caused water levels at the plant to rise over 6.5 more than normal, threatening the "water intake structure" that pumps cooling water throughout the nuclear plant.

Snip from Reuters update:

Those pumps are not essential since the reactor has been shut for planned refuelling since Oct. 22. However, a further rise to 7 feet could submerge the service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent fuel pool, potentially forcing it to use emergency water supplies from the in-house fire suppression system to keep the rods from overheating.

On Tuesday, an NRC spokesman said the levels reached a peak of 7.4 feet -- apparently above the threshold. As of 6:10 a.m. EDT waters were at 6.5 feet, with the next high tide at 11:45 a.m. He said the company had moved a portable pump to the water intake structure as a precaution, but has not needed to use it.

The plant's operator, Exelon, says there is no threat to public safety, or the structural integrity of the plant.


  1. Dear lord, don’t let my boyfriend read this one. He frequents some conspiracy-theory forum and someone posted “Sandy’s gonna get nuked on Tuesday, say goodbye” or something equally preposterous and he’s been freaking out… *facepalm*

  2. Aftermath of major disaster, a nuclear power plant says “oh, we’re having some cooling issues, but no need to worry, it’s all fine.” OK cool, this hasn’t happened before, what could go wrong?

  3. They won’t ever admit there’s a problem until AFTER it happens.  That’s because their corporate bottom line demands lying to the public, and therefore the stockholders, until it’s incontrovertible there is a disaster that has already initiated and cannot be covered up.  The only sane way forward would be to shut down old technology and use newer, better, stronger tech.  But we do not live in a sane world.  We live in an INSANE world.  You don’t even need to be a conspiracy theorist to see how insane this world is.

    1. There’s a reason they hide too many of the details from the public, too. Nuclear power is a complicated thing that most people do not understand. They only way the public can react is “that sounds like a really big number.”
      Nuclear power, overall, is very safe. They don’t tear down the old tech and build new tech, because as soon as a building or reactor is removed, or one budget is lowered to allow for a new budget elsewhere, there will be hesitation to build the new one.

      In this case, floodwaters approached the known limit, at which point the backup would have to be used. Because of this, they added another backup, in case the backup failed.

      Including disasters like Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl, for every nuclear-power-related death (measured per unit of energy produced), there are about 4 deaths due to wind power, and 375 deaths due to coal power.

      There are many reasons to mistrust corporations. Fear of nuclear power is not one.

  4. High flood waters can be problematic to nuclear power plants? Who knew? We aren’t clairvoyant. I mean c’mon, it’s not like 6 months ago there was some crazy environmental disaster that caused a storm surge resulting in cooling trouble and subsequent radioactive material leakage at some other aging nuclear facility..

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