NRC to meet with Duke about Oconee flood, fire protection issues

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) will brief Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) representatives Aug. 28 about continuing fire and flood protection upgrades being implemented at the Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina.

Earlier this year, NRC issued Duke Energy Carolinas a notice of violation and confirmatory order because the company was moving too slowly on a new fire protection program at the nuclear plant located about 30 miles outside Greenville, S.C.

A revised schedule does call for Duke to implement its move to National Fire Protection Association standards, but the upcoming meeting will mostly be a status update by Duke, an NRC Region II spokesperson said Aug. 19.

Duke is continuing the make structural updates around the station to further shrink the risk posed by floods and fires, the NRC spokesperson said.

The projects to be discussed include pending plant improvements designed to prevent or mitigate the effects of floods or tornadoes. There will also be discussions about work related to the plant’s transition to different fire protection standards as well as enhancements to improve Oconee’s ability to cope with possible equipment failures.

The new fire standards give Duke the ability to put more focus on plant areas that would pose the most fire risk, an NRC spokesperson said.

Since the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, NRC has been putting more emphasis on flooding safeguards at nuclear plants. A Duke Energy spokesperson said an additional public meeting is scheduled on flooding and severe weather safeguards in September.

Although she did not have an estimate, the spokesperson also said the flood and fire protection measures being implemented at Oconee represent a significant infrastructure investment.

Oconee has three pressurized water reactors (PWRs) built in the 1970s that have a combined generating capacity of more than 2,500 MW.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.