An alert has been declared at the Exelon Corp’s New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant because of the record storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, the Nuclear Regulator Commission said Monday.
If the water rises further, operators may have to use emergency water supplies from a hose to cool spent uranimum fuel road. The alert is the second lowest of four NRC levels, Reuters reports, and came out after the water levels rose by 6.5 feet, possibly affecting pumps circulating water. If the water goes as high as seven feet, it could submerge a service water pump moter that cools water for the spent fuel pool.
In an extreme situation, the used uranium rods could cause the water in the pool to boil within 25 hours, overheat and leak radiation. However, a Exelon Corp official said operators can cool the rods with fire hoses.
The NRC said water levels should start going down in the next several hours.
Oyster Creek is the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant and was already out of service for refueling. Conditions were still safe at the plant, said the NRC.