Feds Inspect Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Reactors After D.C. Blackout

LUSBY, Md. (WJZ) — Two reactors at a Maryland nuclear power plant are being inspected by federal officials after a massive power outage last week. A backup generator failed at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant–something that could have had serious consequences.

Meghan McCorkell has more from investigators.

Three inspectors are at Calvert Cliffs right now trying to determine what went wrong after last week’s power outage.

When the lights went off last week across parts of D.C. and Maryland, power was also cut off at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.

The two reactors then switched over to backup emergency diesel generators, but one of them failed–a glitch that could have resulted in devastating consequences.

“If a plant loses off-site power, the safety systems that are used to help cool down the reactor are then powered by these emergency diesel generators. We saw this at Fukushima,” said Neil Sheehan, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman.

During the Fukushima crisis, a massive earthquake knocked out power to the plant. It was followed by a tsunami that destroyed all the backup generators, resulting in a nuclear meltdown.

Fortunately, that’s not what happened at Calvert Cliffs. Officials say there was no impact to public health or safety.

Still, investigators with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are now on site, trying to figure out what went wrong.

“We want to ensure that the safety margins at all U.S. nuclear power plants are properly preserved,” said Sheehan.

The inspectors will be at the plant for at least a week. A final report will be released 45 days after the inspection is complete.

Investigators say the same generator that failed this time also failed back in 2010.

Investigators say one of three saltwater pumps failed to automatically restart. Workers manually started it.

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