As Hurricane Harvey bore down on them, workers remained at the controls of Texas’s biggest nuclear power plant, keeping the lights on for 2 million customers even while some of their own homes were flooded.
Teams of employees have been stationed at the South Texas Project power plant since early Friday. While the site is 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Houston and avoided the worst of the deadly storm, it had to cope with heavy rain and flooding on nearby roads that made it difficult for people to get around.
“Really, it’s a matter of getting the sleep you need so you are prepared and ready for the next shift,” said Bob Tatro, a 30-year veteran at the plant and a shift manager for a storm crew that’s kept the plant operating.
Despite as many as 10 inches of rain on Monday, the nuclear plant near the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t been threatened by the rising waters in nearby tributaries, Eller said. Winds from Harvey never reached hurricane force at the site, which would have required the plant to shut down, he said. There was no flooding at the facility, which is near a wildlife nature preserve.
Workers have been making sure the site’s storm drains are clear and there is enough potable water, said Kurt Moorefield, a shift manager who has been at the plant since Friday.
“The biggest issue is finding other employees who can safely make it back to the site,” Eller said. Some workers’ homes have flooded and the company was focused not only on keeping the plant running but helping to assist employees displaced by the storm, he said.