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Gulf Coast Besieged

Texas Nuclear Plants to Be Shut Down

Two power reactors are expected to be in Rita's path. Another facility also may be closed.

September 22, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Twin nuclear power reactors at the South Texas Project on the Gulf Coast are expected to be in the path of Hurricane Rita and will be shut down before the storm hits land, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday.

The reactors, 12 miles southwest of Bay City, Texas, will be shut down seven hours before expected landfall, its operators have told the agency.

The NRC said that workers at the Waterford nuclear plant 20 miles west of New Orleans also were preparing for the hurricane but that Rita's path would determine whether it closed.

The Waterford reactor was closed Aug. 28 before Hurricane Katrina hit and was later restarted. The NRC says it must be shut down if winds are anticipated to be more than 74 mph, minimum hurricane force.

The NRC has sent inspection teams to the facilities.

"Both plants are robust structures with watertight doors designed to withstand hurricane-force winds," the NRC said in a statement.

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