Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant in path of Hurricane Florence | News & Observer
“We have verified the capability to withstand a total loss of electric power to our plants,” Williams said. “We have verified our capability to withstand flooding and the impact of floods on systems inside and outside the plant.”
At least two NRC inspectors will ride out the storm inside the plant, Smith said, and they have been making rounds daily to monitor the progress as plant operators prepare for the storm. Smith said Brunswick has five on-site diesel generators that are backed up by two additional generators installed at elevated levels to stay dry if high waters defy all estimates.
“They have everything they need to operate the plant safely,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of executing at this point. Even if the storm is bad, they should do fine.”
The temporary flood barriers, called “cliff edge barriers,” hint at the remote potential for catastrophe inherent to the business of splitting atoms to make electricity. In nuclear parlance, a “cliff edge” effect refers to a small variation in plant conditions that can trigger an abrupt change, pushing a nuclear plant over the cliff, from normal functioning to a critical state.