Anchovies Shut Down Nuclear Reactor

SOUTHPORT, NC -- A school of anchovies shut down a N. Carolina nuclear power plant.

Brunswick Unit 2, on the Atlantic coast near the S. Carolina border, shut itself down automatically after all four of its water intake screens were clogged with the tiny fish, and its coolant pumps lost suction.

The pumps take water directly from the ocean through a canal to cool the plant's nuclear reactor. The plant uses moving screens, called traveling screens, that normally brush fish off of the intake areas. Fish saving devices move the fish away from the screens and send them back down the canal toward the ocean.

"From time to time, there are fish impingements [sic] on these traveling screens that are more than the system can handle," said NRC spokesman Ken Clark.

The run of anchovies that overwhelmed the plant has now subsided and the plant, which was not damaged, is being restarted.

--Environment News Service, June 29, 1999.