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« Oyster Creek may have to use fire suppression system to cool high-level radioactive waste storage pool | Main | "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High: Ending the Nuclear Age," Chicago, December 1-3 »
Monday
Oct292012

First an "Unusual Event" and then an "Alert" declared at Oyster Creek due to Hurricane Sandy

Oyster Creek atomic reactorThe United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has reported that Exelon Nuclear declared an "Unusual Event" at the Oyster Creek atomic reactor in Lacey Township, New Jersey (photo, left) at 7 PM Eastern, when water levels in the Forked River "first reached a minimum high water level criteria" in the plant's cooling water intake structure, "due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction, and storm surge." The very center of Hurricane Sandy made landfall not far from Oyster Creek.

The higher level "Alert" was declared at 8:45 PM due to river levels in the intake structure "exceeding certain high water level criteria."

The Oyster Creek atomic reactor is currently shutdown for refueling. However, this means that thermally hot high-level radioactive waste, recently discharged from the operating reactor core, is now stored in the irradiated fuel storage pool, increasing risks of the pool water boiling if the electrical grid goes down in the storm. NRC does not require the cooling water systems in high-level radioactive waste storage pools to be connected to emergency back-up diesel generators, or any other power source besides the primary electrical grid.

Oyster Creek is the oldest operating reactor in the U.S., an identical twin design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 2, 3, and 4 -- only older. Its high-level radioactive waste storage pool contains significantly more irradiated nuclear fuel than any of Fukushima Daiichi's units.