The Waterford nuclear power plant near New Orleans shut down in advance of fierce Hurricane Katrina, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Sunday.

The NRC said Waterford, about 20 miles west of New Orleans, took the step to ensure all safety precautions were in place before the storm, which is expected to come ashore around sunrise.

It said the plant’s main concern beyond winds was the storm surge, last predicted to approach the top of an 18-foot levee on the Mississippi River.

The agency said it sent additional personnel to Waterford as well as the River Bend plant 25 miles north-northwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Grand Gulf plant 25 miles south of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“Nuclear plants are very robust structures designed to withstand winds in excess of those in Katrina and associated storm surges,” the NRC said in a statement. “Both Waterford and the other plants have watertight doors at key safety systems.”

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.