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Message Subject *** Fukushima *** and other nuclear-----updates and links
Poster Handle Waterbug
Post Content
Protecting nuclear plants from nature’s worst
[link to www.washingtonpost.com]


Equally striking, our data also suggest that several U.S. nuclear power plants are unprepared for high waves. In our database, the United States came in second, behind Japan, as the country with the largest number of inadequately protected nuclear power plants. The 1938 New England hurricane triggered a storm surge as high as 25 to 30 feet, considerably higher than waves generated this week by Sandy. A wave that tall would easily overtake many nuclear power plants on the East Coast, which on average lie about 20 feet above sea level, with minimal sea wall protection.

According to our data, the U.S. nuclear power plants most vulnerable to inundation are the Salem and Hope Creek plants on the New Jersey/Delaware border; the Millstone plant in Connecticut; and the Seabrook plant in New Hampshire. All of these are close to large cities: The Salem and Hope Creek plants are about 90 miles from Washington and about 35 miles from Philadelphia. The Millstone plant is about 40 miles from Hartford, Conn., and 100 miles from New York City. The Seabrook plant is about 35 miles from Boston. As points of reference, consider that the U.S. government recommended a 50-mile evacuation radius during the Fukushima disaster, and Tokyo is about 140 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi site.

The threat posed by extreme weather is not hypothetical. In 1999, waves caused by high tide and a storm surge breached the sea wall at the Blayais nuclear power plant in France, cutting off external power and knocking out several pieces of equipment. That incident did not result in a major accident, but the outcome could have been much worse. Blayais is situated on a river adjacent to the ocean, and it was protected by a 17-foot sea wall at the time of the accident. The Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants similarly lie slightly inland on the Delaware River, but the plants would be threatened with inundation if wave heights exceed 11 feet.
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