Nuclear power plant false alarms caused by lightning

The Oswego County, N.Y., Emergency Management Office believes that lightning might have triggered false alarms for two local nuclear power plants in Scriba, N.Y., according to GenerationHub.

Emergency notification sirens for two Exelon-run nuclear units went off during a thunderstorm on the morning of Aug. 18, according to a news release from the local emergency management office.

The incident happened shortly before 9 a.m., and affected the FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point nuclear units, according to an Aug. 25 event notification report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“Thunderstorms in the area are believed to have caused a lightning strike and the spurious activation. Siren repair personnel have been dispatched to isolate the siren and begin repair work. The siren has since been silenced,” NRC said.

The malfunction caused the siren to sound longer than the 3 minutes they are designed to sound, according to the local emergency services office.

The siren is one of 37 located within a 10-mile radius of the nuclear power plants in Scriba. A system of sirens and tone-alert weather radios is in place to alert residents in the event of an emergency.

During an emergency at one of the plants that would require protective actions for the public, the sirens would be sounded for three minutes to alert residents of the area to turn their AM/FM radios or televisions to local Emergency Alert System (EAS) stations for further information.

Both FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point are boiling water reactors. FitzPatrick was listed at zero generation while Nine Mile Point Units 1 and 2 were listed at 100 percent generation, according to NRC’s daily reactor status report.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 22 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.

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