Emergency Declared at NJ Nuclear Plant from Hurricane Sandy — Power lost, ocean water rising — Concern about cooling of reactor and spent fuel pool

Published: October 30th, 2012 at 12:20 am ET


UPDATE: [intlink id=”reuters-just-6-more-inches-of-water-could-submerge-new-jersey-nuclear-plants-pump-to-cool-spent-fuel-pool-new-footage-of-flooding-next-to-oyster-creek-video” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

UPDATE 2: [intlink id=”nbc-230a-water-continues-rise-area-new-jersey-nuclear-plant-flood-emergency-be-only-creeping-video” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Title: Nation’s oldest nuclear plant on alert
Source: Associated Press
Date: Oct. 29, 2012

The nation’s oldest nuclear power plant, already out of service for scheduled refueling, was put on alert late Monday after waters from Superstorm Sandy rose 6 feet above sea level. […]

High water levels at Oyster Creek […] prompted safety officials to declare an “unusual event” around 7 p.m. About two hours later, the situation was upgraded to an “alert,” the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system*.

The plant’s owner, Exelon Corp., said power was also disrupted in the station’s switchyard, but backup diesel generators were providing stable power, with more than two weeks of fuel on hand. […]

As discussed by nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, there is NO backup diesel generator for the spent fuel pool at Oyster Creek. See: [intlink id=”gundersen-on-tv-biggest-problem-i-see-is-oyster-creek-plant-near-jersey-shore-no-way-to-cool-spent-fuel-pool-while-power-is-out-all-nuclear-fuel-is-in-pool-none-in-reactor-video” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

*Read about the NRC’s four ‘Emergency Classifications’ here

  • ‘Alert’ – Events are in process or have occurred which involve an actual or potential substantial degradation in the level of safety of the plant. Any releases of radioactive material from the plant are expected to be limited to a small fraction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protective action guides (PAGs)

Title: U.S. Exelon declares alert at New Jersey reactor due to storm
Source: Reuters
Date: Oct 29, 2012 11:58pm EDT

[…] The NRC spokesman said if the flood waters contined to rise, it could affect the reactor’s service water pumps, which are used for shut-down cooling and to cool the spent-fuel pool.

Since the plant was already shut for refueling, the NRC spokesman said the company could use water from the fire hose to cool the spent-fuel pool if necessary. […]

Watch video of flooding seen just a short walk from Oyster Creek nuclear plant from earlier today

Published: October 30th, 2012 at 12:20 am ET


Related Posts

  1. NRC: Spent fuel pool cooling lost at NJ’s Oyster Creek nuclear plant during Hurricane Sandy November 2, 2012
  2. Gundersen on TV: Biggest problem I see is Oyster Creek plant near Jersey Shore — No way to cool spent fuel pool while power is out — All nuclear fuel is in pool, none in reactor (VIDEO) October 29, 2012
  3. Reuters: Just 6 more inches of water could submerge NJ nuclear plant’s pump to cool spent fuel pool — 25 hours to boiling without more coolant — New footage of flooding nearby (VIDEO) October 30, 2012
  4. NYT: Fire before Ft. Calhoun’s spent fuel pool lost cooling power “remains under investigation” June 21, 2011
  5. NRC: Alert still in effect at NJ nuclear plant — High water levels in Oyster Creek’s water intake structure remain October 30, 2012

33 comments to Emergency Declared at NJ Nuclear Plant from Hurricane Sandy — Power lost, ocean water rising — Concern about cooling of reactor and spent fuel pool

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Nearly a million New Yorkers were without power as hurricane Sandy made landfall Monday night. Subway tunnels, the waterfront, and the financial district flooded.

    “Much of New York was plunged into darkness Monday by a superstorm that overflowed the city's historic waterfront, flooded the financial district and subway tunnels and cut power to nearly a million people.
    “The city had shut its mass transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway and ordered hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to leave home to get out of the way of the superstorm Sandy as it zeroed in on the nation's largest city.
    “Residents spent much of the day trying to salvage normal routines, jogging and snapping pictures of the water while officials warned the worst of the storm had not hit.
    “By evening, a record 13-foot storm surge was threatening Manhattan's southern tip, howling winds had sent a crane hanging from a high-rise, and utilities deliberately darkened part of downtown Manhattan to avoid storm damage.
    “Water lapped over the seawall in Battery Park City, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads. Rescue workers floated bright orange rafts down flooded downtown streets, while police officers rolled slowly down the street with loudspeakers telling people to go home….”

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant is about 40 miles from Atlantic City. Check out this photo, and the "creek" surrounding it: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/10/121029-nuclear-plants-brace-for-hurricane-sandy/

  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    Story at <www.simplyinfo.org>—"Oyster Creek Lost Grid Power, Spent Fuel Pool Cooling At Risk"

  • Mack Mack

    Nuclear energy sure is a big headache for the 8.26% of energy it provides the U.S.

    Look at this 2011 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory chart of

    "Estimated U.S. Energy Use in 2011"

    Nuclear-energy usage is only 8.26%


    Trillions of dollars; tons of illnesses and pollution; big headaches, etc. all for 8.26%

  • http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/30/storm-sandy-exelon-oystercreek-idUSL3E8LU1S120121030

    just updated

    Exelon Corp declares alert at New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear plant on storm surge

    * Further water rise could mean fire hose to cool spent rods-NRC spokesman

  • Weeping Lulu Weeping Lulu

    Good Lordy, why does this sound like the same story of that out of control 5 year old at the wheel of a stolen car that took down Fukushima?

  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    More nuke closures. In addition to Oyster Point, pone unit at Indian Point has shut down, Story by AP: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/extra-inspectors-nuclear-plants-storm-nears#overlay-context=article/old-guard-stays-tomb-unknowns-superstorm .

  • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

    Just read the water at OC rose to 6 ft, at more than 7 ft. they need to get the hoses out "though water is not expected to rise to that level".
    Ft. Calhoun flashback anyone?

    Just glad to hear they have satellite phones, phew

  • durando durando

    I am listening to ocean county ems and fire scanner via tunein no mentions of npp fire but maybe they would just be smart to not broadcast it on open channels or something.

    Link tunein.com/search/?query=ocean+county

    Sounds like a rough night for those guys

    • guezilla

      No word if any of them are nearby, but just reported "at least 20 fires raging" in unreachable parts of Ocean County: http://t.co/6HFyf7yA
      Also while talking of the hurricane and catastrophes, lets not forget the 5 alarm blaze in NYC that's by last news consumed 50 houses, and the numerous lesser ones sparked by Sandy. These are far more immediate concern to most people, but yes, best hopes to all concerned.

    • arclight arclight

      i am a bit suspicious of the authorities as a rule but my respects to the emergency workers AND the nuclear workers..


  • Max1 Max1

    "[…] the NRC spokesman said the company could use water from the fire hose to cool the spent-fuel pool if necessary. […]"

    Excuse me but…
    … Isn't the pump to draw the water out of the SFP connected to this same generator?

    Sure… add more water. Then what?

    • guezilla

      This comment would assume the pool is boiling dry a'la Fukushima. But it's still a long way to that level, unless there's something they're not telling – not discounting that, especially as I think that spokesman just earned the prize for the dumbest thing to say to try to calm down public.
      "Don't panic – we've still got fire-hoses"
      And that would indeed be the last line of defense – but the water level is supposed to have turned down, and while more complicated, flying in and connecting new pumps or even completely new water-lines can be done as well as generators.
      But fire-hoses? That's what you do when the water-level is already precariously low an radiation prevents working long-term on the site. I'm surprised he didn't just go for the definite winner, "We've got this, we can cool it by water-drops from helicopters".

      • Radio VicFromOregon

        The pumps are getting wet. They are non-submersible. Another 6 inches of water rise and they are useless.

        • Radio VicFromOregon

          No pumps mean no functioning generators or cooling water circulation. This was the main problem at Fukushima according to Arnie Gundersen. Flooded pumps. Using non-submersible pumps in low lying areas that flood. In japan, the flooding was momentary from the tsunami wave but long enough to destroy them. At Oyster Creek, the water will remain high until it can drain out along with all the high water in the region. They can't even pump water out of the pump room. The redundant system, as mentioned should the pumps fail, is the fire suppression water. How that water gets to the pool no one is saying. Is that on a different pump? A water proof pump or one higher off the ground than 7 feet? It is not known at this time by the NRC or Oyster Creek if the fire suppression pump works. This is the level of no-thinking going on. So, this has the potential to be something like SFP 4. What's the chance of getting a snapshot of the pump room?

          • guezilla

            While I do not agree with the general danger assessment, the communications coming from NRC and Exelon are hilarious if the subject wasn't so serious, and indicate a Fukushima level of incompetence. From the Reuters news-clipping comes this gem of emergency-communications:
            'Exelon spokesman David Tillman said the plant has "multiple and redundant" sources of cooling for the spent fuel pool. He said he did not know whether the service water system was operational at the moment.'

            (For the heck of it, the last announced level at Oyster Creek is *alert*, this does not imply an emergency like the EENEWS headline does. My use of "emergency-communication" above refers to the general concept and not seriousness of the situation. The NRC action levels are "Notification", "Alert", "Site Emergency" and "General Emergency". This has not yet been reported as emergency)

  • tinkr55

    Oyster Creek NPP is the oldest NPP in the US. Last year, it asked the NRC for a 20 year extension to operate, and was given 10. The plant circulates its water into the Barnegat Bay, which is now home to thousands of mutated fish and amphibian life. Thirty years ago the bay was a popular summer spot for boating, fishing, swimming and crabbing. Many people who spent summers swimming in the bay as children, have grown to be adults with numerous health problems. Multiple types of cancers, infertility, skin lesions, and auto immune diseases. Of course, the NRC has denied any connection between the NPP and the health issues.
    Toms River, which is about 25 miles north of Oyster Creek, has the highest rate of leukemia in the entire state of NJ. Again, the NRC denies any possible connection, even though the cooling water has leaked into the 2nd aquifer.
    They article failed to mention that there will be another high tide cycle in the am. Six inches of water is a very small amount, considering that the ocean at high tide is expected to be at least 4 ft. above normal. They did make the point that they have enough fuel to run the generators for 2 weeks, but did not address the possibility of submerged pumps. As guezilla said, "UGH."

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    all hands on deck; bring your duct tape and baling wire!

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    Leave your Geiger COunters behind!

    Radiation is GOOD for you… so say all of the nuclear apologists.

  • Mack Mack

    —–> Here's what the "Asbury Park Press" is reporting about Oyster Creek:

    "…suffered power outages, lost a portion of its warning alarm system, and underwent an “alert’’ due to rising water levels."


    "The plant is temporarily being powered by backup diesel generators and a combustion turbine engine providing energy for water pumps that cool the fuel stored in the reactor until normal power sources are restored."


    —–> 300 employees are "sequestered" at Oyster Creek npp.

    —–> Didn't hear NJ Gov. Christie mention anything about Oyster Creek in his briefing this morning.

  • This fire hose and SPF cooling at OC reminds me of:31 Mar 1993 – Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh
    The Narora Atomic Power Station there suffers a fire at two of its steam turbine blades, damaging the heavy water reactor and almost leading to a meltdown.
    Finally they brought the fire engine to cool the reactor core, also heavily tritiated. See http://nuclearfunda.blogspot.in/
    It would have repeated at Kalpakkam and melted the rocks there:
    Kalpakkam means Stone turned into lava.
    More Fukushimas are certain, what with two SS's turned into a figure of eight in PWHRs in India and climate change engineered by dams heating up rocks and resulting in SSS on the East Coast of N America and a cyclone beating down on Tamilnadu coast housing Kudankulam Reactors right at this moment.

    • @Ramaswami Kumar
      October 30, 2012 at 10:59 pm
      The cyclonic storm NILAM 12 at 110 kmph is expected to hit Kalpakkam housing the Kalpakkam fast breeder prototype 500 MW reactor and the MAPP 440 MW PHWRs at 1730 IST or 1200 UTC at 31/10/12
      Kalpakkam NILAM-12
      Lat 12.5575 12.5

      Long 80.175 80.3

      • Karnage

        Admin needs to keep an eye on that as well.

      • @Ramaswami Kumar
        October 31, 2012 at 2:25 am
        NILAM 12 would dump 250 mm or more of rainfall as a severe cyclonic storm there.
        Ref: http://www.imd.gov.in/section/nhac/dynamic/cwind.pdf

        • See further data and history of Kalpakkam at
          We may be in for a possible loss of power for cooling and more at Kalpakkam. The distance between the nuclear park and where Nilam 12 will make landfall is 8 km. And wind speeds expected 110 km(gusty). And Kalpakkam MAPP reactor structures designed for 160 kmph wind speed but they are of 1980 vintage:
          .."the MAPS-1 went critical in 1983 and began operating at full power on 27 January 1984. MAPS-2 obtained criticality in 1985 and began full power operations on 21 March 1986.[2] The two Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) are capable of generating 170MWe each which is lower than the designed power of 235MWe since some zircaloy pieces from the cracked cooling system were found in a moderator pump.[3]"
          Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madras_Atomic_Power_Station
          The structures are therefore aged more than 30 years. And at what state of rupture are they?