United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

The Estimation of Very-Low Probability Hurricane Storm Surges for Design and Licensing of Nuclear Power Plants in Coastal Areas (NUREG/CR-7134)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: May 2012
Date Published: October 2012

Prepared by:
Donald T. Resio, Ty V. Wamsley, Mary A. Cialone,
and T. Christopher Massey

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory
3909 Halls Ferry Road
Vicksburg, MS 39180

John Randall, NRC Project Manager

NRC Job Code N6676

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

Design criteria for nuclear power plants require, in part, that structures, systems, and components important to safety be designed to withstand the effects of natural phenomena, including floods, without loss of capability to perform their safety functions. The objective of this project is to provide the NRC with a technical basis for estimating probable maximum water levels due to storm surge from extreme events along the southern coast of the U.S. A review of the existing guidance was conducted and limitations in the technical basis for estimating storm surge identified. Required updates based on the most recent data available and state-of-the-practice analysis methods, tools, and models are recommended for NRC consideration. A deterministic-probabilistic approach for estimating very-low probability hurricane storm surges for design and licensing of nuclear power plants in coastal areas is developed. The proposed approach determines which factors affecting hurricane surges can be shown to have asymptotic upper limits and which factors should be treated within a context that allows for natural uncertainty in estimating an upper limit for surges at a specified site. The proposed approach is demonstrated through application at three nuclear plant sites. A screening method is also developed to determine if a prospective site is at risk of flooding from coastal storm surge. The proposed screening method includes criteria for proceeding or not proceeding to more detailed definitions of design-basis storm surges and explicitly considers local conditions and bathymetry that may affect water level estimates.

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