U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2005/05-118.html No. 05-118 August 28, 2005 NRC MONITORING APPROACH OF HURRICANE KATRINA; WATERFORD SHUTS DOWN The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Sunday dispatched additional personnel to three nuclear power plants in Louisiana and Mississippi in response to the expected landfall Monday of Hurricane Katrina. One plant near New Orleans - Waterford - informed the NRC it shut down to ensure that all safety precautions are in place ahead of the storm. The NRC is monitoring the hurricane from operations centers in Arlington, Texas, and its Rockville, Md., headquarters. "We are staying on top of the situation because protecting public health and safety is paramount," said Nils Diaz, chairman of the independent regulatory agency. At the Waterford plant the major concern beyond winds was the storm surge, last predicted to approach the top of an 18-foot levee on the Mississippi River. Nuclear plants are very robust structures designed to withstand winds in excess of those in Katrina and associated storm surges. Both Waterford and the other plants have watertight doors at key safety systems. All three plants the NRC was monitoring are owned by Entergy Nuclear. The Waterford plant is about 20 miles west of New Orleans. The River Bend plant is about 25 miles north-northwest of Baton Rouge, La., and Grand Gulf is located 25 miles south of Vicksburg, Miss. Waterford initially declared an "unusual event" because of the approach of the hurricane, and will raise its level of preparedness on the NRC's four-step scale to an "alert" as winds reach hurricane strength and to a "site area emergency" should winds exceed 110 mph. The alert levels are specified in advance precautionary plans dictated by the NRC. The "site area emergency" classification is associated with plant personnel safety. The NRC will have to approve the restart of Waterford and any other plant that shuts down. Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will have to determine that evacuation routes in the area are passable. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2005/05-031iv.html No. IV-05-031 August 30, 2005 CONTACT: Victor Dricks Phone: 817-860-8128 E-mail: [email protected] NRC CONTINUES TO MONITOR NUCLEAR PLANTS AFFECTED BY HURRICANE KATRINA The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is working closely with operators at three nuclear plants to ensure continued safe and secure operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As a precautionary measure, the Waterford 3 nuclear plant near Taft, La., shut down when a hurricane warning was issued for St. Charles Parish on Saturday. It remains in an Unusual Event, the lowest of four emergency action levels. Electrical power for key safety systems on site is being supplied by the plant's standby diesel generators, following a loss of off-site power caused by instability in the regional electrical grid. NRC staff have independently verified that key plant systems and structures, are undamaged and able to support current plant operations. At the direction of the NRC, the nation’s nuclear plants, which are among the most robust structures in the critical infrastructure, have increased security preparedness and capabilities available during emergencies. A member of the NRC staff plans to accompany officials from the State of Louisiana and the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a survey of the site within the next 48 hours. NRC approval is needed before the plant can be restarted. This survey will include off-site evacuation routes and emergency sirens. The Grand Gulf nuclear plant near Port Gibson, Miss., and River Bend Nuclear Station near Baton Rouge, La., were both operating at reduced power this morning. The plants operated through the storm, but voluntarily reduced power generation to assist in restoring stability to the electrical grid when a drop in energy consumption caused grid voltage to fluctuate. Some emergency sirens were unavailable at Grand Gulf and River Bend, but Entergy Nuclear has informed the NRC they can make offsite notifications in the event of an emergency, should the need arise. The NRC will work with FEMA to independently verify siren operability. NRC staff continue to monitor the situation from its incident response center at its Region IV office in Arlington, Texas. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2005/05-032iv.html No. IV-05-032 September 8, 2005 CONTACT: Victor Dricks Phone: 817-860-8128 E-mail: [email protected] WATERFORD NUCLEAR PLANT TERMINATES UNUSUAL EVENT The Waterford nuclear plant near Taft, La., has terminated the Unusual Event due to Hurricane Katrina and has begun recovery operations in preparation for restart. As a result, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is shifting from monitoring the effects of Hurricane Katrina to oversight of Waterford’s activities in preparation for restart. On Aug. 27, Waterford declared an Unusual Event and shut down protectively when a hurricane warning was issued for St. Charles Parish, in which the plant is located. The robust design of the plant protected it from any damage, although offsite power and some communications capability was lost during the storm. An Unusual Event is the lowest of four emergency action levels. Over the weekend, operators restored offsite power, ending reliance on standby diesel generators. An additional set of generators, brought in before the storm as a precautionary measure, were never needed. Repairs have also been made to communications systems, which had been disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The reactor is safely shut down and the plant cannot restart without NRC permission. "Under existing emergency plans, the NRC and its licensees took aggressive and appropriate steps to prepare for Hurricane Katrina," NRC Chairman Nils Diaz said. "The NRC requires all nuclear plant operators to have in place detailed site-specific plans and procedures for a variety of emergency situations, including natural disasters." The plant will remain shut down while workers perform some minor maintenance unrelated to the hurricane. Operators will not restart the reactor until NRC completes its restart readiness assessment, to verify both the plant and its staff are ready to support full power operation. The agency’s resident inspectors, augmented by regional and Headquarters staff, will continue around-the-clock oversight of licensee activities. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2005/05-033iv.html No. IV-05-033 September 9, 2005 CONTACT: Victor Dricks Phone: 817-860-8128 E-mail: [email protected] NRC AUTHORIZES RESTART OF WATERFORD NUCLEAR PLANT Following a comprehensive assessment, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized the restart of the Waterford nuclear plant near Taft, La. Workers are performing maintenance unrelated to the hurricane prior to initiating procedures leading to restart of the reactor. The plant shut down as a precautionary measure on Aug. 28 when a warning for Hurricane Katrina was issued for St. Charles Parish, La., where the plant is located. The plant was essentially undamaged by the storm, although it did lose offsite power and some communications systems were affected. NRC performed a readiness assessment to verify that the plant, its staff and onsite emergency preparedness are ready to support restart. NRC worked with other Federal agencies in their evaluation of the readiness of offsite emergency preparedness and response capabilities to support operation of the plant. Conditions are sufficiently stable to ensure that the plant’s emergency preparedness plans and procedures could be implemented should they be needed. "The NRC has performed a comprehensive review of the plant’s readiness for restart," NRC Chairman Nils Diaz said. "We are confident the plant can be operated safely." Once operational, Waterford will supply electricity to support recovery of the regional infrastructure. NRC and its licensees took aggressive and appropriate steps to prepare for Hurricane Katrina. NRC coordinated extensively with other Federal, State and local emergency response organizations before, during, and after the Katrina. From its inception, NRC headquarters and regional operations centers carefully tracked the status of Hurricane Katrina in the Atlantic Ocean and verified licensee preparedness and confirmed communications capability amongst emergency response organizations. NRC coordinated with its regional offices, other Federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and State and local organizations and maintained close communications with its licensees throughout the passage of the storm. NRC also applied lessons learned from previous hurricanes and updated its communication and coordination protocols for determining offsite emergency preparedness for a natural disaster in advance of Hurricane Katrina.