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U.S. Nuclear Reactors Weather Storm Without Losing Power

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant
Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant located in Lusby, Maryland. Source: Constellation Energy Group Inc. via Bloomberg

More than a dozen nuclear plants in the path of Hurricane Irene along the U.S. East Coast safely weathered the storm’s passage without losing power to their reactors, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Two reactors were taken offline because of the storm; one in New Jersey as a precaution and one in Maryland after damage from storm-blown debris triggered an automatic shutdown.

Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Calvert Cliffs plant, near Lusby, Maryland, was the only station to suffer damage from Irene, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in an e-mailed statement. Constellation declared an “unusual event, the lowest of four emergency classifications, after Irene’s winds sent a piece of aluminum siding crashing into the main transformer at the site.

Constellation called off the emergency earlier today, and the reactor remained offline.

‘‘There was never a threat to the public; the site remains stable and secure,’’ Constellation said in an e-mailed statement.

Another nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs continued to operate at 100 percent capacity through the storm, the company said.

Oyster Creek Offline

Exelon Corp.’s Oyster Creek plant near Toms River, New Jersey, shut yesterday about 5 p.m. in anticipation of hurricane-force winds, Exelon said in a statement.

The plant owner is waiting to resume output after on-site inspectors complete a safety assessment, Suzanne D’Ambrosio, an Oyster Creek spokeswoman, said in a phone interview today.

Irene, which once had winds of up to 120 miles (194 kilometers) an hour, was downgraded to a tropical storm as it pushed its way into New England.

Dominion Resources Inc.’s Millstone nuclear plant, which sits on a peninsula in the Long Island Sound, was spared the storm’s fury as Irene took a westerly track, said Ken Holt, a spokesman for the plant.

Dominion hasn’t needed to shut down the two reactors at the plant in Waterford, Connecticut, which are operating at about 50 percent, Holt said in a telephone interview. The plant didn’t get winds as high as had been predicted, Holt said.

‘‘It doesn’t seem as bad as we’d expected,” he said.

Progress Energy Inc.’ Brunswick nuclear plant in North Carolina also reduced its power output as Irene approached yesterday.

All other U.S. nuclear plants were operating normally and at full capacity, the nuclear commission said.

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