Nuclear Plants Safe, but NRC Keeping Close Eye on Harvey

August 29, 2017 Updated: August 29, 2017

Not everyone will be leaving Bay City Texas under the mandatory evacuation order.

Nuclear inspectors and hundreds of plant staff will remain to keep the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear power plant up and running.

The plant is running at full capacity and officials assure the public they are keeping a close eye on the facility.

A spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said two inspectors dispatched to the plant on Friday are due to be replaced.

“They are basically there around the clock, not getting very much sleep,” said the spokesperson.

“They are sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor of an office.”

But the spokesperson said the plants are well within their tolerances.

“They are designed and built to be able to withstand the most adverse weather phenomena: hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and torrential rains.”

The regulator has been getting calls from citizens concerned about the impact of the storm and has been working to assure the public that it is monitoring weather closely to ensure safety of all plants along the coast that could be impacted by the storm. 

It also says it has been in close communication with officials from the Texas plant’s operating company, and that the two responders dispatched from Arlington, Texas, have been in constant communication with the operator.

The NRC said it has additional responders ready to provide any technical assistance required by plants impacted by the storm.

As for the STP, all is running normally.

“Both #reactors have been operating at full power, and all of their safety systems are available to support a safe plant shut down if conditions warrant,” said the NRC.

But the regulator implied that Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is within the plants tolerances.

Those structures include watertight doors protecting safety equipment and steel and concrete containment structures protecting the reactors that are several feet thick.

The National Hurricane Center warned of “relentless torrential rains” that will also impact counties in neighboring Louisiana, which hosts the Waterford nuclear power plant and the River Bend nuclear plant near Baton Rouge. However, the NRC said there is currently no danger to the plant.

“Current weather projections for Harvey do not pose a threat to the #Waterford nuclear power plant in New Orleans and the #RiverBend nuclear plant near Baton Rouge,” said the regulator.

The NRC is also paying close attention to conditions that could impact a plant in Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

As the hurricane approached, the NRC tried to assure the public its approved licensees were supported in their efforts to deal with the storm. The regulator shared a video on YouTube outlining how it ensures facilities remained safe during extreme weather conditions.