Hurricane Florence leaves hundreds of thousands without power in North Carolina

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Power outages from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall Friday morning in North Carolina and SC, have topped 945,000 customers. Procedures require operators to shut down plants well before hurricane-force winds arrive on site.

Duke officials watching the storm's track on Thursday made a decision to close down the Brunswick plant, which is located about four miles from the coast.

Duke Energy, which supplies electricity to communities in there different states, a 1,870-megawatt facility located about 30 miles south of Wilmington on North Carolina's southern coast, Weather.com reported. On its current track, the storm will hit the coast on Friday with maximum sustained winds of about 105 miles per hour.

Duke Energy has shut down its Brunswick Nuclear Plant as it was directly in the predicted path of Hurricane Florence.

Federal regulators later required all US nuclear plants be reinforced against earthquakes and flooding.

According to a 2004 NRC report, Brunswick was rated to be waterproof against a storm surge of up to 6.7 metres (22 feet).

They also have prepared their backup diesel generators to make sure the plants have enough fuel to keep producing power.

"We have inspected their storm protections".

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A hurricane simulation exercise conducted by FEMA and the Energy Department this spring considered how to respond to damage at a nuclear power plant, according to The Associated Press, which first reported the exercise.

"This is no ordinary storm and customers could be without power for a very long time - not days, but weeks", said Fowler.

Overall, there are at least nine nuclear facilities within Florence's projected impact area.

Flooding at nuclear plants became more of a concern after a 2011 quake and subsequent tsunami in Japan caused one of the worst nuclear disasters since the 1986 Chernobyl incident.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday in its 11 a.m. ET advisory.

NRC said it "is also sending additional inspectors to those plants and will activate its regional incident response center in Atlanta, to provide around-the-clock staff support during the storm".

The spread of toxic contaminants has been a concern for previous storms.

The cyclone is one of the most powerful hurricanes to have formed in the Atlantic this year.

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