Powerful hurricanes like Hurricane Florence present multiple risks to nuclear power stations. High winds can down power lines that deliver electricity that nuclear plants use to run their cooling systems. Flooding can damage back-up generators or key components needed to keep reactors safe. Flooding can be caused by heavy rain that raises the level of rivers and reservoirs, by intense local precipitation that overwhelms on-site drainage systems, or by wind-driven intrusion of water into buildings. Storm surges can also cause flooding.
Several nuclear reactors are in areas that may be subject to flooding in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Inspections and reviews by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have found potential problems at some plants that could allow water into critical systems.
The factsheet linked below provides further information on nuclear power plants in areas that may be affected by Hurricane Florence.
Photo: Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant, Southport, NC. Credit: Doc Searls via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Associate Director and Senior Policy Analyst, Frontier Group
Elizabeth Ridlington is associate director and senior policy analyst with Frontier Group. She focuses primarily on global warming, toxics, health care and clean vehicles, and has written dozens of reports on these and other subjects. Elizabeth graduated with honors from Harvard with a degree in government. She joined Frontier Group in 2002. She lives in Northern California with her son.