The Brunswick Nuclear Plant declared an "unusual event" on Saturday, which is the lowest level of emergency notice.
The plant, located four miles from the coast in Southport, said that it declared the unusual event because access to the plant was blocked due to floodwaters and impassable roads, which resulted in people not being able to get in or out of the plant, according to Joey Ledford with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Due to the condition of the roads, deliveries were not made and employees were not able to get in or out to relieve workers who had been working for several days.
Ledford said he expects that the plant won’t be under this status much longer as the roads are clearing and the NRC was able to get two inspectors in today to relieve the people that have there.
Duke energy announced in a press release on September 13 that the two units on the site would be systematically shut down by plant staff ahead of Hurricane Florence.
"We remain in constant communications with local, state and federal officials regarding the status of the plant," the company reported in the press release, "and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with inspectors on-site, remains informed of our plans regarding plant shutdown."
The release said that there were multiple levels of protection in place to protect the plant, but that shutting it down helps mitigate effects beyond what the region is used to.
Engineers and staff have remained on site at the plant to monitor the situation.
Duke spokesperson Sara Collins said that the procedure for shutting down the plant is proprietary and cannot be released, but that the process is the same as a standard shutdown the plant does to refuel.
She said that shutting the plant down is part of the disaster preparedness plan that all nuclear plants must have in place.
“There are procedures that every nuclear plant has to follow,” Collins said.
Collins said that Duke does not want Brunswick County residents to be worried about the shutdown, but to focus on staying safe.
“We are very confident in [our operators’] training, in their level of preparation … we’re very confident in what’s happening.”
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