“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.
Reuters provides a list:
The following lists the nuclear reactors and utilities 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
- Calvert Cliffs was knocked offline by the last hurricane
- 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
- Limerick has suffered electrical and other issues
- Three Mile Island suffered another leak in the cooling system last month
- Susquehanna has been hit with one problem after another
- Oyster Creek has been plagued with electrical and other 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
- 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.
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”.