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Worker access cut at Duke's North Carolina nuclear plant amid flooding

Washington — Workers are unable to enter or leave Duke Energy's 1.978-GW Brunswick nuclear plant near Wilmington, North Carolina, following flooding around the station, the company said in a regulatory report Monday.

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The issue is not a safety concern, since two shifts of workers are onsite and the utility placed food and water supplies at the plant in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Florence Friday, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said Monday.

The hurricane made landfall near Wilmington Friday morning before moving west and south as it gradually lost strength ,and was downgraded to a tropical storm later Friday. Duke shut both reactors at the Brunswick station Thursday to comply with a requirement that the units be shut several hours in advance of the arrival of hurricane-force winds at the site.

In a report to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Duke Energy on Saturday declared an unusual event, the lowest of NRC's four emergency declaration levels, because road flooding was preventing passenger vehicles from accessing the site.

The site can be reached by helicopter should Duke need to resupply it or bring in relief workers, Hannah said.

Flooding at the site was minimal and offsite power was retained at all times during the storm's passage, Hannah said.

Brunswick was the only US nuclear plant to see an impact on its operations from the storm. Other units in the path of the storm in North and South Carolina continued to operate at 100% of capacity Monday. -- William Freebairn, william.freebairn@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com