Entergy to shut Waterford reactor in Louisiana ahead of Isaac
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Entergy Corp said on Tuesday it would shut its 1,168-megawatt Waterford nuclear station in St. Charles Parish, 30 miles west of New Orleans, as U.S. weather forecasters confirmed that Isaac had strengthened into a hurricane with winds of 75 mph (120 kms per hour).
The Waterford reactor will shut Tuesday afternoon, hours before high winds reach the plant, an Entergy spokesman said, while a second Entergy nuclear plant, River Bend, further north near Baton Rouge, is expected to be able to operate through the storm.
Most nuclear plants are required to shut in advance of the arrival of hurricane-force winds of 74 mph.
"The site is currently planning on a controlled shutdown in accordance with our storm procedures early this afternoon," said Waterford spokesman Carl Rhode. "As it stands now hurricane force winds are expected at the site early Wednesday morning."
A spokeswoman for Entergy's River Bend reactor said hurricane-force winds are not expected to reach that location so the plant will continue to run.
Both plants were operating at 100 percent of capacity early Tuesday, according to a regulatory report.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent additional personnel to Waterford and River Bend to assist resident inspectors. The NRC staff will remain at both plants during the coming days to monitor the licensee's activities and ensure safe plant operations.
About 100 workers will be sequestered at each plant until the storm moves out of the area.
The tropical storm strengthened into a weak hurricane with maximum winds of 75 mph earlier Tuesday as it slowly churned toward the Louisiana coast.
Entergy implemented severe weather procedures at Waterford and River Bend earlier this week to prepare the sites for the approaching storm.
Waterford is designed to withstand flooding up to 30 feet mean sea level. Watertight doors will be sealed before the onset of hurricane conditions.
Flooding is not expected to be an issue at River Bend which is located more than 90 feet above sea level.
The Waterford station is also preparing for a major outage beginning in mid-October to refuel and to replace the plant's giant steam generators and its reactor vessel head.
Entergy said the new steam generators are currently stored in a reinforced building on the property and large cranes on the site have been secured ahead of the storm.
(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Sofina Mirza-Reid and David Gregorio)
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