For now, Oyster Creek may miss the eye but Salem and Hope Bay may be a direct hit when Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.
1. Oyster Creek
Hurricane Sandy seems to have shifted the path slightly to the south, so Oyster Creek plant on New Jersey Sound may escape the eye of the hurricane but is likely to be hit with heavy rain.
Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is the oldest commercial nuclear power plant in the United States, commissioned in 1969 with GE's Mark-I reactor.
It is located in Lacey Township in New Jersey, operated by Excelon and serving 600,000 customers. The reactor has been offline since October 22 for regular maintenance and refueling. You know what it means.
At least part of the hot fuel core may be in the Spent Fuel Pool, as they were going to replace one third of the core with new fuel.
2. Salem (2 reactors), Hope Bay
Instead of Oyster Creek, the hurricane is heading directly at Delaware Bay where the three reactors are located in Salem County.
Salem Nuclear Power Plant has two pressurized water reactors by Westingshouse. The plant was commissioned in 1977 (unit 1) and 1981 (unit 2), is operated by PSEG, a publicly owned utility company in New Jersey.
PSEG also operates Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station, which is located in the same site as Salem Nuclear Power Plant. It has one GE Mark-I boiling water reactor.
Maps of the nuclear plants locations:
Salem and Hope Bay (left), Oyster Creek (right)
Hurricane Sandy's projected path and rain forecast, as of 10:00AM EST Monday (image from Huffington Post 10/29/2012, part):
Now, if Sandy was a normal hurricane, it probably wouldn't matter very much. After a hurricane hits, the sky clears quickly and all will be good. However, this one is extraordinarily big and slow-moving, fed by the polar jet stream. Instead of several hours at most a day, heavy rain and wind may persist for DAYS. I don't know if the design specs for these nuclear power plants had allowed for this kind of "Frankenstorm" with storm surge further increased by the full moon (Wednesday).
Business Week just reported that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent additional inspectors to 11 reactors from Maryland to Connecticut, and the inspectors are equipped with satellite phones.