Flooding in Northeast Not Expected to Shut Down Nuclear Plants

The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee have caused widespread flooding in Pennsylvania and New York, forcing an estimated 100,000 people from their homes but failing to reach levels that would endanger the states' nuclear plants.

All commercial reactors in both states were operating at 100 percent power Thursday, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with the exception of Peach Bottom 3 that operated at 88 percent power in advance of a refueling outage. According to statements from the NRC and utilities, that's likely to remain the case as flood waters reach their peak.

At Exelon's Three Mile Island, flood waters were expected to crest along the Susquehanna River at 297 feet above sea level Thursday, which an NRC spokesman quoted by Platts indicated was three feet below the level that would require an unusual event declaration. Upstream, PPL's Susquehanna plant had also begun abnormal operating procedures for floods, but major safety systems remained well above the water. Coolant intakes are being closely monitored, and the NRC spokesman said some plant staff might stay overnight if flooding makes the site difficult to reach.

At Peach Bottom, also operated by Exelon, waters in an adjacent pond are expected to crest at 109 feet. Both units will be shut down if water reaches 111 feet, but the utility is using the Conowingo Dam to control the water levels.

Some 100,000 people have evacuated from parts of Pennsylvania and upstate New York, according to a tally by CNN. More than ten inches of rainfall has been measured in recent days in some areas, according to the New York governor's office.

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