US nuclear units monitor rising Mississippi River

Fri May 6, 2011 10:28pm GMT

 HOUSTON, May 6 (Reuters) - Nuclear power-plant operators
are monitoring forecasts for the rising waters of the
Mississippi River and preparing to shut plants later in the
month if flooding threatens access to sites or operation of
plant safety systems, a regulator said on Friday.
 High water is not expected to disrupt operations at nuclear
plants located along rivers in the Midwest, but Entergy Corp
(ETR.N: Quote) officials are preparing for high water at three reactor
sites along the Mississippi River from near Vicksburg,
Mississippi, to New Orleans, a company spokesman said.
 Entergy's 1,268-megawatt Grand Gulf nuclear station in
Claiborne County, Mississippi, may be the most vulnerable,
officials said, based on government forecasts for the river to
reach a high of 57.5 feet (17.5 meters) on May 20, some 14 feet
above flood stage.
 "We do not expect the plant to shut down if the flooding is
not above current projections," said Victor Dricks, a spokesman
for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's regional office
near Dallas.
 However, high water could cut off access on the main road
to the plant, forcing emergency vehicles to take a longer
route, he said.
 If river conditions are forecast to worsen, reactors will
be shut ahead of time, Dricks said.
 Operators are making plans to shut the plants, if
necessary, and preparing back-up diesel generators and
batteries used to keep emergency cooling systems running in the
event of a loss of off-site power.
 The Mississippi River is forecast to crest near Entergy's
978-MW River Bend nuclear plant in West Feliciana Parish,
Louisiana, on May 23, the National Weather Service says.
 Entergy's 1,176-MW Waterford nuclear plant in St. Charles
Parish, Louisiana, is expected to complete a month-long
refueling outage in the next week or so, before Mississippi
River floodwaters peak on May 24. Waterford is located behind a
29-foot seawall.
 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to open on Monday
the Bonnet Carre Spillway not far from the Waterford site to
allow Mississippi River water to flow to Lake Pontchartrain.
 Dricks said the NRC was also monitoring water levels on
Missouri and Arkansas rivers, but saw no flooding at Entergy's
1,838-MW Arkansas Nuclear One station in Pope County, Arkansas;
the Nebraska Public Power District's 770-MW Cooper station in
Nemaha, Nebraska; or the 478-MW Fort Calhoun nuclear station in
Washington County, Nebraska.
 A spokeswoman for the NRC's regional office in Illinois
said regulators were monitoring the situation but did not
expect any impact from the rising Mississippi River on Midwest
nuclear sites operated by Exelon Corp (EXC.N: Quote) and others.
 (Reporting by Eileen O'Grady; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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