NRC raises concerns about Dresden flood plan

Associated Press Modified: November 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm •  Published: November 2, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Friday that it has asked Exelon Generation to address concerns over how the company would handle a catastrophic flood at the Dresden Nuclear Station in northern Illinois, after recent inspections indicated potential problems.

Among the concerns is how the company would refuel diesel pumps that circulate water to cool the reactor and how it would keep equipment from becoming clogged with flood debris, NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said. The commission sent a letter to the company Thursday, and Exelon has 30 days to respond.

"We're not saying their plan won't work, but we have raised questions," and Exelon must demonstrate that it would work, Mitlyng said.

She said there is no immediate safety risk, but the goal is to keep the site's two reactors safe in the event of a worst-case flood, like the one that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan last year.

Although that is highly improbable, the company must be prepared, Mitlyng said.

Exelon spokeswoman Krista Lopykinski said the company still is reviewing the NRC's questions but has taken steps to upgrade flood security to reflect "lessons learned" from the disaster at Fukushima.

Those steps included buying a portable 8-foot high dam, portable diesel water pumps and backup generators. Exelon also is reviewing potential plant modifications, officials said. The company plans to hold a public meeting at the plant on Dec. 15 to answer residents' questions.

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