Duke shuts down Brunswick nuclear plant ahead of Hurricane Florence

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He added: "Those power plants are, one, obviously hardened".

In a call with reporters on Wednesday, Duke officials said a decision on whether to close the Brunswick plant had not been made.

More than 8,000 Duke workers in North and SC are already in the area, and 1,700 workers from Duke Energy Midwest and 1,200 from Duke Energy Florida will also be on hand.

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has started to shut its Brunswick nuclear power plant in North Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to strike the coast near the plant on Friday.

According to the group, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not released public information validating that the plant has been properly updated to protect against flooding.

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Since Florence is expected to hit with Category 1 winds, the plant has to be shut down two hours before the storm hits, according to federal law. But Duke Energy Corp and the NRC have gone back and forth about whether the facility meets the new requirements, as the plant was originally created to protect itself against only 3.6 feet of storm surge.

Swirling over the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 800 kilometres out to sea as of Wednesday midday, the storm was classified as a Category 4 Hurricane, with maximum sustained wind speeds near 215 km/h, and hurricane force winds (of at least 118 km/h) out to a distance of 110 kilometres from the storm's core.

The two reactors at the site, which entered service in 1975 and 1977, are of similar design to some of the reactors damaged at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after an natural disaster and tsunami in 2011.

"This is no ordinary storm and customers could be without power for a very long time - not days, but weeks", said Fowler.

In preparing for Hurricane Florence, the NRC statement said that the staffs at Brunswick, Surry in southeastern Virginia, Harris near Raleigh, N.C., Robinson near Hartsville, S.C., and some other plants are working through their severe weather procedures, including ensuring that all loose debris and equipment have been removed or secured, and conducting walk-down inspections of important systems and equipment. "We're satisfied they met current NRC requirements". In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew's landfall brought down power lines and flooded transformers, leaving more than two million customers without power across several states.