Superstorm Spawns Nuclear Power Plant Shutdowns

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Superstorm Sandy forced parts of two nuclear power plants to shut down late Monday and early Tuesday, while officials at the nation's oldest nuclear power plant declared an "alert."

One of the units at Indian Point, a plant about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down Monday because of external electrical grid issues.

And one unit at the Salem plant in Hancocks Bridge, N.J., near the Delaware River, was shut down Tuesday because four of its six circulating water pumps were no longer available. The pumps are used to condense steam on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

And because Sandy caused nearby floodwaters to rise 6 feet above sea level, the Oyster Creek Plant in Lacey Township, N.J., declared an "alert." That is the second-lowest of four possible warnings at nuclear plants.

The Oyster Creek Plant was already offline for regular maintenance and refueling. Federal officials say the plant, which is watertight and able to withstand hurricane-force winds, is doing fine.

Nuclear power plants are built to withstand hurricanes, airplane collisions, and other major disasters.

Oyster Creek went online in 1969 and generates enough electricity to power 600,000 homes a year. It's scheduled to be closed in 2019.

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