Oconee Nuclear Station

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Oconee Nuclear Station
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Oconee Nuclear Station
Oconee Nuclear Station is located in South Carolina
Oconee Nuclear Station
Location of Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina
Country United States
Location Oconee County, near Seneca, South Carolina
Coordinates 34°47′38″N 82°53′53″W / 34.79389°N 82.89806°W / 34.79389; -82.89806Coordinates: 34°47′38″N 82°53′53″W / 34.79389°N 82.89806°W / 34.79389; -82.89806
Status Operational
Commission date Unit 1: July 15, 1973
Unit 2: Sept. 9, 1974
Unit 3: Dec. 16, 1974[1]
Construction cost ~$500 million
Owner(s) Duke Energy
Operator(s) Duke Power
Nuclear power station
Reactor type pressurized water reactor
Reactor supplier Babcock & Wilcox
Power generation
Units operational 3 x 846 MW
Capacity factor 92.5%
Annual gross output 20,565 GWh

The Oconee Nuclear Station is a nuclear power station located on Lake Keowee near Seneca, South Carolina, and has an energy output capacity of over 2,500 megawatts. It is the second nuclear power station in the United States to have its operating license extended for an additional twenty years by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (the application for the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland preceded it).

This plant has three Babcock & Wilcox pressurized water reactors, and is operated by Duke Energy.

Oconee was the first of three nuclear stations built by Duke Energy. According to Duke Energy's web site, the station has generated more than 500 million megawatt-hours of electricity, and is "the first nuclear station in the United States to achieve this milestone."[2]

In the summer of 2011 it became the first nuclear power station in the United States to have its sensors controlled digitally.[3]

Surrounding population[edit]

The Babcock & Wilcox nuclear steam generator is seen at the company's plant at Barberton, Ohio prior to shipment via the Penn Central Railroad and the Southern to the Oconee Nuclear Station, then under construction in 1970. This generator can convert more than 10 million pounds of water per hour into steam.

The NRC defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[4]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Oconee was 66,307, an increase of 11.5 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for msnbc.com. This includes the main campus of Clemson University. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 1,404,690, an increase of 14.8 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Greenville (30 miles to city center).[5]

Seismic risk[edit]

The NRC's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Oconee was 1 in 23,256, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[6][7]

Flood risk[edit]

Duke Energy has noted that a rapid failure of the Jocassee dam would flood the plant and cause the loss of power and safety equipment, potentially damaging its three reactor cores within 8 to 9 hours. It could further lead to reactor containment failure within 59 to 68 hours, triggering a significant release of radioactivity into the environment. Duke informed the NRC about this flooding hazard as early as January 1996.[8] Duke Energy estimated the probability of a random failure of Jocassee Dam is 1.3(10−5)/year, while the NRC puts the estimate at 2.8(10−4)/year.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ South Carolina Nuclear Plants, eia.doe.gov
  2. ^ "Oconee Nuclear Station". Duke Energy. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  3. ^ http://www.kansascity.com/2011/05/29/2912054/sc-nuclear-plant-becoming-1st.html
  4. ^ http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/emerg-plan-prep-nuc-power-bg.html
  5. ^ Bill Dedman, Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors, msnbc.com, April 14, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42555888/ns/us_news-life/ Accessed May 1, 2011.
  6. ^ Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk," msnbc.com, March 17, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42103936/ Accessed April 19, 2011.
  7. ^ http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/NEWS/quake%20nrc%20risk%20estimates.pdf
  8. ^ http://allthingsnuclear.org/dam-failures-and-flooding-at-us-nuclear-plants/
  9. ^ Screening Analysis Report for the Proposed Generic Issue on Flooding of Nuclear Power Plant Sites Following Upstream Dam Failures page 9 http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/flooding.pdf

External links[edit]