Brunswick Nuclear Generating Station

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Brunswick Nuclear Generating Station

The Brunswick nuclear power plant, named for the county in which it is located, covers 1,200 acres (4.9 km²). The site is adjacent to the town of Southport, North Carolina, and to wetlands and woodlands, and was opened in 1975.

The site contains two General Electric boiling water reactors, which are cooled by water collected from the Cape Fear River and discharged into the Atlantic Ocean.

The majority owner (81.7 %) and operator of the Brunswick nuclear plant is the Progress Energy Corporation. The North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency owns the remaining 18.3 %.

The Brunswick plants' proximity to the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean allowed the designers to take in cooling water from the Cape Fear river and discharge it into the Atlantic off the coast of Oak Island. Fish, crustaceans, and other debris are removed from the cooling water via a filtration system. The water then flows through the nuclear plant and discharges into a five mile long canal which passes under the Intra-Coastal Waterway at one point.

Surrounding population

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission 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.

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Brunswick was 36,413, an increase of 105.3 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 468,953, an increase of 39.6 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Wilmington (18 miles to city center).

Seismic risk

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Brunswick was 1 in 66,667, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.


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