Dozen Nuclear Plants In Hurricane Sandy’s Path, Brace for Impact

“Because of the size of [Hurricane Sandy], we could see an impact to coastal and inland plants,” Neil Sheehan, a spokesman based in Philadelphia for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said by phone today. “We will station inspectors at the sites if we know they could be directly impacted.”

The NRC met earlier today to discuss the necessary precautions to take for the storm, Sheehan said. Plants must begin to shut if wind speeds exceed certain limits, he said.

As of 2 p.m. New York time, Sandy had winds of 75 miles (121 kilometers) per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was about 430 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, moving north at 7 mph.

The current Hurricane Center track calls for the system to come ashore just south of Delaware Bay on Oct. 30.

Over ten nuclear reactors and utilities are in Sandy’s potential path.

While we don’t foresee any problems, the risk of nuclear accident in the U.S. is actually much greater than it was in Japan before Fukushima.

For example, fuel pools in the United States store an average of ten times more radioactive fuel than stored at Fukushima, and have virtually no safety features.

Let’s review the list and look at examples of problems experienced by the nuclear plants in Hurricane Sandy’s path:

Brunswick experienced a reactor coolant system leak last year

Surry has recently been plagued by problems with the coolant system, valves and damage from a tornado

North Anna leaked tritium last year after an earthquake shook the plant and shifted around a gigantic radioactive storage cask

Salem has been riddled with problems with security, turbines problems and other issues.

Hope Creek has suffered security problems, has the same design as the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1, has “some of the same issues with above-ground storage of spent fuel rods as Fukushima” and “was designed to withstand certain major weather events but we need to look at the potential impacts of more extreme events, especially … sea level rise and flooding”

Peach Bottom purportedly has a defective design and has been plagued by various problems

Indian Point is widely recognized as one of the nation’s worst nuclear plants. If Indian Point melted down, it could close New York City for years, and cost half a trillion dollars or more

Millstone’s vulnerability is shown by the fact that it was shut down due to warm seawater

Pilgrim has numerous structural problems. And see this. Pilgrim’s spent fuel pools contain more radioactive cesium than released by Fukushima, Chernobyl and all nuclear bomb tests combined

Seabrook has had problems with corrosion, computers and a host of other issues

Vermont Yankee – which has around 10 times more spent fuel rods than any of the individual Fukushima reactors – leaked tritium

It’s not surprising that there have been problems at all of these nuclear plants. After all, the U.S. has 23 reactors which are virtually identical to Fukushima. The archaic uranium reactor designs developed more than 40 years ago are only good for making bombs.

Most American nuclear reactors are old. They are aging poorly, and are in very real danger of melting down. And yet the NRC is relaxing safety standards at the old plants. And see this.

Indeed, while many of the plants are already past the service life that the engineers built them for, the NRC is considering extending licenses another 80 years, which former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and now senior adviser with Friends of the Earth’s nuclear campaign David Freeman calls “committing suicide”.

The dangerous reality of nuclear power is becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of the continuing (and “profoundly man-made”) disaster at Fukushima as well as studies which project similarly devastating disasters in the future.

Yet nations including Japan continue to press forward with nuclear power in spite of the clear dangers and the widespread public opposition to the deadly technology.…

U.S. regulators privately have expressed doubts that some of the nation’s nuclear power plants are prepared for a Fukushima-scale disaster, undercutting their public confidence since Japan’s nuclear crisis began, documents released by an independent safety watchdog group show.…

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