U.S. Nuclear Power Plants, safe distance?
Are you wondering what is a safe distance to live from a nuclear power plant?
FULL SIZE map of U.S. Nuclear Power Reactor Locations
I’ve drawn 100 mile radius zones around the nuclear power plant locations. This will put perspective on it. More about this below…
Note: Potassium iodide tablets – a thyroid blocking medicine used in a nuclear emergency.
Potassium Iodide Tablets, 130 mg (14 Tablets)
(view on amzn)
Map of U.S. Nuclear Reactor Locations
Back during the time of the nuclear reactor meltdown disaster in Fukushima Japan, I put together a location map of the current (and decommissioned) nuclear power plant / reactors in the United States.
Without discussing For or Against nuclear power, it may be smarter and a better use of time to learn some lessons from what happened in Japan that led to the the Fukushima meltdown. To consider the potential risk for those living in the U.S. near one of these reactors – should a worst-case-scenario ever occur.
The problem at Fukushima: All electrical power was lost to the plant (earthquake – tsunami – backup generators destroyed – battery backup dead). This led to a lack of cooling of fuel rods in the reactors, which then led to a meltdown situation.
The underlying issue was a complete lack of electrical power, power sufficient enough to run the powerful cooling pumps.
The Importance of a Geiger Counter
Note: A Geiger counter / nuclear radiation detector will be an important asset during a nuclear disaster!
GQ GMC 500Plus with Dosimeter
(view on amzn)
[ Read: 5 Nuclear Radiation Detector Choices ]
Some of the “What if” Risks
Taking a simple look at the risks that may exist around any nuclear power plant, including the locations in the U.S. map above, the worst-case-scenario is always going to be one where the ‘issue’ leads to complete power failure. Without electricity, any one of these nuclear reactors will melt down, just like Fukushima, or worse.
We would like to think that a nuclear power plant is designed and constructed with the utmost highest regard for for safety.
However, I still cannot help but think of several ‘what if’ scenarios:
What if a ‘Carrington Event‘ solar flare were to occur, like what had happened in 1859. Astrophysicists know that it WILL happen again, it’s just a matter of when. If an extreme solar event like that were to take down the electrical power grid, and-or damage electronic systems from its EMP effects, how long would it be before any, some, most, or all of these nuclear power plants would runaway to meltdown?
What if a true EMP weapon, or weapons, were to detonate and take down all electrical systems of a region, or wider, what then? Are the backup generators and their associated electrical control systems impervious to EMP-type effects for example? What about the control systems of the reactors themselves, are they EMP proof?
Okay lets continue with more “what if’s”…
The New Madrid fault zone. What if it were to unleash a magnitude 9+ earthquake, which geologists agree is possible. Then how would the nuclear plants avoid catastrophe at the reactors in northern Arkansas, eastern Missouri, or others nearby?
The San Andreas tears loose in California. How will Diablo Canyon and San Onofre handle it?
What if there is an unforeseen ‘physical’ attack on one of these reactors? What can the containment vessels withstand with regards to missiles of various strengths?
A cyber ‘virus’ attack along the lines of the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked the Iranian nuclear development facilities?
100 mile radius zones on the map (linked above)
These simple questions led me to create a map of all U.S. nuclear reactors, both operational and decommissioned, so as to have a look where the danger zones ‘might’ be, should a worst-case-scenario occur.
It is difficult to answer the question, “How far away is a safe distance from a nuclear reactor?”, so I’ve created 100 mile radius zones (200 mile diameter) around each nuclear plant to provide some visual perspective. Yellow zones are around decommissioned plants.
Remember, it’s all about the wind direction too. The prevailing winds in the U.S. are typically from west to east while normally dipping down into the south-central U.S. before bending back up the east coast.
These are power reactors which are not the only reactors. For example, the Idaho National Laboratory (formerly National Reactor Testing Station), is in south-east Idaho. Arco, Idaho was the first city powered by electricity generated by nuclear power. I don’t know of the current status, but there are at least decommissioned reactors in the Idaho desert.
If all of these active and spent rods melt down, what do you think the radiation levels will reach in the US? Where in the us do you believe will be the most sheltered from radiation? Thank you for your diligent posting on this issue…..
This is typical manic fear from people who do not understand nuclear. The fear is aligned with events such as the weapons used by the US during WWII, dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the potential to kill. There has not been 1 nuclear death in the US associated with any nuclear power due to back up safety and secondary containment since WWII. Three Mile Island had zero radiation escape during its core melt down in 1979 caused through human error. Japan’s Earth Quake/Tsunami nuclear disaster had deaths associated with hero’s trying to restore power to the cooling pumps during the event. The Tsunami caused the damage and took thousands of lives. Nuclear energy is a clean reliable energy but needs new technology and back up safety in place to ensure human error is not a cause of a melt down in the future. Future needs for humanity will include BIG data, autonomous machinery, Artificial Intelligence and will depend on huge amounts of energy that renewable energy sources are not able to produce.
Piketon Ohio !
Sorry, but I’m not sure you completely understand nuclear either. It frustrates me to the extreme when folks refer to nuclear as “clean”. The spent fuel is the problem.
It is too dangerous to ship (even if you could, where would it go?). The spent fuel must be kept cool in a deep pool of water. If the water is not replenished, it will eventually evaporate, causing a fire/radiation release. It is a time bomb, that the industry hopes nobody will notice(or at least it hopes most people write it off as “manic fear”).
Finally, instead of consuming more and more and more, that future humanity MUST figure out how to do more with less.
Amen…To the not in my backyard idiots:
If it’s at your door it WILL walk into your house, DUH
Soooooo sooooo true……as of today there are 101 reactors in the u.s., and only one mobile backup generator currently which is located on the east coast. it makes no difference at this point in time if it’s a functioning reactor or not. All nuke plants here have used nuclear material in cooling ponds. An emp natural or man made would more than likely destroy the backup generators as not one plant is emp hardened. In addition a nuclear attack in the U.S. would be a double dose nuclear event as you would have the nuclear exchange radiation then in the secondary event the meltdown of the nuclear of the power plants. Most people ( my belief) have never connected the finalities of those two catastrophic events. I had an exchange with Glenn Beck in 2012, it was never aired, in it I detailed to Glenn the fact that approximately 84 nuclear plants are east of Mississippi River, as such an emp, or nuclear attack would in my opinion eliminate 90% to 95% of the population in that area, and in addition possibly another 70% of those west of the Mississippi River.
Heres a slap in the face fact that the gov would rather we didnt know about,
From what i have read elsewhere all it would take is further refinement of that material as a fuel and some tweaks to the utilization process and it could be used till it basically was gone and not dangerous, but because of stupid laws governing the refinement of that material thanks to the FUSA gov yahoos it is only allowed to be processed far enough that its life in the reactor is shortened and its afterlife as a toxic dangerous waste product is enabled all in the name of not refining the material to weapons grade. Yup, Sounds stupid even to me and im no nuke physicist,
The amount of spent fuel is absolutely tiny. A single globe of uranium you could fit in your hand can power a city for years. It’s really only dangerous if you spend prolonged amounts of time around it without shielding. Most of the ‘nuclear waste’ is secondary waste (ie the containment vessels etc) which would require years of exposure to cause harm and which lose their radioactivity fairly quickly.
You do know this is a worst case scenario right? And in the event of catastrophic failure of all of them, like Covid killing off everyone who knows how to run them, there will be a huge problem for anyone left. Nuclear for the moment is an evil nessecity but it’s also stupid as hell and highly dangerous if not controlled correctly. This is talking about absolute worst case and that would be them all having meltdowns because no one is left to regulate the core temp or make repairs. Duh you dumb Dora.
Aside from being a rude creature do you know in your “Brilliance” that you are Commenting on a Comment ALMOST 18 Month OLD?
If you have something useful to say TRY using the same Tone you’d use Face to Face.
We welcome intelligent people but so far your not showing signs of intelligence.
You do realize you’re wasting your breath/typing on comments like this.
These “wannabe trolls” comment and never look back.
Ahhhh well, such as the world is today huh?
NRP & Blue,
How’s life on Lightning Point?….Life’s good here on the mountain…no fightin’ , very little cussin’ , or prospects of any burnin’ or lootin’ anytime soon…did hear a little shootin’ today…no more than normal…figure somebody’s havin’ squirrel tonight….
Moving over to Open Forum.
We don’t have a national repository for nuclear waste, the spent rods are being kept in temp caskets outside on concrete pads FOR DECADES, and often near sources of water, its a disaster waiting to happen at ANY TIME.
Deliberate and unwittingly parroted nuclear power generation and waste disinformation permeates the internet. PA TMI dosimeters melted, so humans have been the dosimeters after Governor Thornburgh colluded with media “to not panic the public” uninformed to bring livestock in from the rainfall precipitating increased fallout impact tragically also on children awaiting bus transport. My PhD environmental cancer epidemiologist expert witness husband and other sacrificially caring humans tracking the fallout and northeast traveled plume health impacts for decades weren’t able to gain traction publishing the associated cancers and deformities recorded from Pennsylvania up into New York before my husband, with a uranium level in his body in the 90th percentile founde in humans, later passed from cancer too. I learned from them how all US nuclear power plants exceed designed lifespan. The farther you live from active or decommissioned generators or stored waste or EPA Superfund website reported sites, the better, like SW NY unsafely stored in ground nuclear waste poisoning groundwater and tributaries leading to a large popular fishing river flowing into Lake Erie.
Not For Profit,
it’s something to think about and be aware of.
my father worked at the nuclear test site at Mercury, NV in the late 50’s and early 60’s, not sure of what he did there as it was the cold war and the people that worked there didn’t talk about it, security.
he died at 42 from cancer in 77, as did a lot of people he worked with. the above ground tests that they did there blew radioactive dust up into the winds that covered the St George, UT area and a large part of northern AZ . its all about the winds and if you are downrange of it.
stay safe, and i enjoyed your post
I once saw the classified fallout maps of the U.S., illustrating the radioactive dose received by the afflicted populations and the estimates of the various cancers it would cause.
People might remember the time when a “Chinese” above ground nuclear test resulted in fallout landing in the American North West and how the dairy farms in the area were told to put their cows in barns and corrals and to truck in feed…to prevent them eating the contaminated grass in the pastures. This would have been in the late 1970s.
You see… A cow and survive much more radiation than a human. A cow can have radioactive milk strong enough to kill…and seem quite healthy.
The only thing is…No such above ground nuclear test ever happened, and the fallout tested as being Soviet. But, that is another story.
A lot of those Mevada test site workers got to watch the last of the above ground nuclear tests. My guess was that many got cancer from neutron, gamma, and xray radiation from watching the blasts, as did some politicians, press, and select dignitaries. Fallout down wind affected many 100s of miles away as an after effect. Still all bad. One of the main reasons for going to underground testing worldwide.
The solar flare a few years ago was a X19 and if it had been directed more towards the Earth, there could have been a lot of blackouts to the electric grid, to nuclear reactors especially. This will probably happen again at the next solar maximum, and it will depend on the direction of the solar flare.
New Madrid fault will probably break again when there is an earthquake in the Mid Atlantic ridge zone that is big enough to trigger it. The Mid Atlantic ridge and the New Madrid fault are thought to be connected from the ancient land masses that were once all connected and when the Mid Atlantic ridge moves it puts strees on the New Madrid fault system.
When the San Andreas breaks it will be the duration of the shaking that damages the nuclear power plants in California or it sets off hidden blind thrust faults that are under these plants that people are not aware of. In Mongolia a few decades ago a similar fault to the San Andreas broke and set off thrust faults in the area.
EMP weapon is a terrible risk to the nuclear reactors and the entire electrical system of this country and Canada because it would not take a very sophisticated missile to get a nuclear device detonated into high enough orbit to cause a lot of months or years long fry outs. Some longer range Scud missile launched from some ship off the coast could do this.
What worries me about some attack is the screening processes at these nuclear plants of the employees that could possibly do something to the plants from within, more so than from outside.
The last and probably the most likely type of nuclear reactor disaster would be a cyber attack from some foreign country that is an enemy of the United States. Other countries have the resources and the brainpower of many individuals that are quite capable of bypassing just about any computer system in the world. The computers at these plants are most likely not near as protected as military complexes, and these so called impenetrable military computers have been broken into before by suspected countries like China and others. Look at what Isreal and the US was suppose to have done with the Iranian nuclear plant.
@Anonymous, Great comment – thanks. Yes, the example of the Stuxnet virus that attacked the Iranian nuclear program is a very real and potentially disastrous possibility.
(9 years later….)
There is a lot of ignorance on this topic, allow me to clear up some important points. I don’t claim to be an expert myself, but I know a fair bit about how BWR (boiling water reactors) at nuclear plants work.
1) When a nuclear reactor “scrams” that does NOT mean it is now safe. The residual heat still needs to be taken away by continuous cooling, otherwise the core will melt.
2) The cooling systems are powered by the electrical grid (i.e. externally). If the whole grid goes down for an extended period of time, the only backup is the diesel generators. These have, at most, 4-5 days of fuel on site. After that fuel is used up, more diesel needs to be trucked or flown in to the site to keep them running… otherwise, the core will melt.
3) In the case of core meltdown, all previous estimates by the NRC and IAEA estimated that only 1% of the radiation would ever leak from the containment vessels. At Fukushima, there were 4 reactors that experienced meltdown, so we got a chance to compare those estimates to reality. It appears that in all four reactors, pretty much 100% of the radiation escaped, not 1%. The design parameters of these BWR reactors was woefully inadequate.
If a large-scale power grid failure occurred due to a solar flare for instance, we would be relying on the continued supply of diesel fuel to every nuclear reactor site affected, until the grid was restored. If the diesel supply was interrupted to any of these plants for any reason, the cores would quickly begin to melt down and it is reasonable to expect a similar result to Fukushima.
I am not anti-nuclear, for the record. There are newer plant designs that have passive cooling systems, i.e. don’t require constant external power supply to keep the cores cool. They are truly “fail-safe.” Unfortunately, none of the U.S. nuclear facilities uses this new design – they’re all similar to the Fukushima design (as far as I know). It is a testament to the arrogance/audacity/greed of our species that these fragile and dangerous reactor designs are still in use 50 years after their initial design.
In several of my Fukushima related articles, I described the reactors there, which are (were) BWR’s. The ‘commenter’ was indeed in error on that point, but let’s refrain from personally attacking though. The comments here are moderated, and if any of them violate the ‘rules’ (which are clearly stated via the link right above where you click-to-comment), they are usually trashed. OK though to point out errors, offer opinion, etc…
GE does make BWR, not PWR. and Japan was BWR reactors. I know because I work for GE
If 100% of radioactive material escaped, then why is there still core material in the reactor? True there was a release of radioactive materials and fission products, but the statement is misleading.
I have heard stats that state hardening our grid only has a 2-3 billion dollar price tag. The criminal regime currently haunting Washington DC, gave Iran spinning centrifuges and 150$billion!?!? Gave Pakistan billions, Isis/Alqueda billions.
Why have we, the citizens not been protected? Transponders which it seems you would be familiar with, take a few years to build. We do not have back ups, and even better China now builds them with our Military equipment. The Iran deal was full blown unadulterated Treason. Treason. Treason. John Treasonous Kerry, skull and bones himselfs daughter married to an Iranian with major connections. Horrible deal, we were sold out again.
The citizens have not been protected because the government, including the White House and the Legislature, have already built accommodations for themselves and their families deep underground. In the event of ANY disaster, there is a list of the people who will be allowed into the safe havens, so to speak, and it includes friends of the elite. The top one percent also have built private underground bunkers as well. They are gorgeous. I toured one with a 2.5 million dollar price tag and that money is a drop in the bucket for the rich. So, they haven’t hardened the grid for two reasons. First, it doesn’t concern THEM or their families. Secondly, this would fit in perfectly with the elites belief that our country is grossly overpopulated and their desire to cull the population. The price tag for hardening the grid is so much less than the freakin wall they keep worrying about that it is OBVIOUS that they care not about the general population. That is the answer. If you research it, others have reached the same conclusion, especially after legislative hearings had testimony that stated that it was essential for us to harden the grid. The Commission that was established to study this was ignored and their testimony ignored, so can anyone else come up with an explanation? Drain the swamp…..ya, the middle class and lower class are the swamp.
Georgia guide stones ring a bell?
Well ???? Ah, Can you say huh?… Ever heard of Arnie Gundersen? Disinformation? Or just Talking for the sake of it? Have you seen the news alerts regarding New England dairy post Fukushima? How about Philly’s Metro water warnings or Boston’s? Oh, and by the way radon is radioactive. Survive-All… and peace out… We’re in this together and there are many points to focus on so lets not waste time…
yep otter. take a search of hawaii dairy. they have been adding boron in various forms to the herds’ feed for months now after seeing radiation leap in their soil and silage. they had no better choice. the worked for weeks on options with the thought that they had to eat and could not afford to just stop taking in dairy. or import that much.
and per arnie gundersen, the pacific northwest got 5 hot particles per day compared to tokyo’s 10 per day. perhaps that had something to do with the 35% infant mortality rate jump in the months that followed 3/11 in the pac nw.
so ken. thank you for the post and the excellent moderation. agreed on the tone and focus.
it seems everywhere east of the mississippi is nuke compromised. getting to the point where we are considering the old folks’ perspective around chernobyl. some just stayed and lived a peasant’s life in a much less populous world. sure their going to get cancer. they are beyond reproductive years though. almost seems like a crime to consider raising kids east of the mississippi now.
thank you again greg and ken and anonymous.
ps. anyone else hear rumor or trial balloons yet about evacuating tokyo?
please do consider the questions of where can we go to survive better both east of the mississippi (for those of us stuck here) and west.
@ nik7d, Greetings from the clan and myself… There are some of us been around long enough to remember the ignorance is bliss life. Of course that ended in the 50’s ( or earlier for some of us. I lived west of the Big Miss. for 26 years. Look up “Otter posts” to get the info. on west of the river. Swore that I’d never move east of the river! So I went with the economy and ended up beyond the east coast. Though I spend much time on Sovereign Tribal land, and Canada is a horse of a different color when it comes to survival… I’m looking to up the Eastern coast and if needed inland and north central Canada if the SHTF. ( Or maybe today We talk of When The Spray starts… ) Good to see a new? commentator, join the clan… Survive-All… P.S. I have family in both the N.W. and in Hawaii… Ugh!!!
I live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant which is designed to withstand a DIRECT HIT by an F5 tornado with winds of approximately 300 miles per hour. It is also designed to withstand a direct magnitude 6 earth-quake (which would be a major issue in Ohio where earthquakes, especially ones of that size, are VERY rare). You can pretty much design for anything, the issue is “how much will it cost” and “how likely is the event that they want us to design for?” There is very little reason to design American nuclear facilities/reactors to withstand a magnitude 9 earth-quake or a 40-50 foot tsunami.
The plant I live near can also withstand a direct hit from a commercial airliner (i.e. hijacked airliner scenario). Containment is such that I would be shocked if any sort of conventional missile were able to penetrate containment. Containment is 12.5 feet thick of concrete with a biological shield that is 2 feet thick of steel. It is not some flimsy wood or simple brick structure. They take safety VERY seriously.
People who talk about nuclear plants or reactors as though they are ticking time bombs have probably never spent a day at a plant, or even engaged in basic study of the nuclear industry.
If a reactor is shut down the only thing to worry about is residual heat removal (the heat produced by the radioactive decay of the fuel source), which is easily accomplished.
everyone seems to be forgetting the NUCLEAR WASTE, right now there is NO NATIONAL DEPOSITORY, just check your local reactor, where are all the decades of spent rods going? In many cases onto temp casks ontop of concrete pads left open to the elements, often near sources of water, this is more of a danger than an accident, nuclear waste is forever.
I know several people who work in the nuclear industry, I have a very good friend who works in maintenance at a nuclear plant, and as for your friend poster, I am presently studying nuclear engineering technology (as in- actively enrolled as a student). I’d like to add a few things about the nuclear power situation…
From what I have learned of nuclear missile siloes via my limited exposure to them (i.e. Ellsworth Air Force Base South Dakota), the typical American nuclear power plant’s containment/shield building is able to withstand a lot more than your typical nuclear missile silo. The silo was not designed with a nuclear strike in mind; since most nations have a doctrine that entails “launch on detection” so the siloes were not built with the idea of having to withstand a direct hit. They were built with the idea that they might have to withstand a near hit of a nuclear weapon or a near/direct hit with a conventional weapon. However, back to my original point, I am confident when I say that a typical nuclear reactor is more “hardened” (if you prefer to use that term) than your typical nuclear launch facility (aka missile silo).
As for my close friend in the nuclear industry, he informs me that typical plant security is very hardcore, usually ex-military, ex-police, armed with (well I won’t go into what they are armed with in the event any nefarious individuals with nasty intentions come across this post), and they are protected/armored with (specifics of their armor will not be discussed- but you can rest safe knowing they are well armed/armored), and most all nuclear plants have an in-house shooting range so they are always able to get range time. They also have a few tricks and aces up their sleeve (hidden bunkers, hardened foxholes, ambush sites, observation posts, etc, in and around the facility grounds).
My friend also tells me that it would be very easy to keep a plant running as long as they have two things, a fuel source and security. Most plants are on a two year fuel cycle, meaning that every two years they do a 30-40 day shut-down for removal of spent or nearly spent rods, a replacement of those rods with fresh rods, critical maintenance that cannot be done while the plant is operating, and the rearrangement of some rods in the reactor core to achieve symmetry in the event they lost symmetry for whatever reason. There’s probably no reason why they couldn’t stretch things out and skip one refueling cycle, if something major had just happened and their refueling outage was coming up, or work with a fuel fabrication facility to enrich beyond the 3-5% that is typical for the American plants (submarine reactors for the navy use about a 20-30% enrichment for a 10 year refueling cycle)…
Anyway, the point is, my friend told me that in a disaster/collapse situation, if about a half-dozen individuals are willing to provide security for the plant, a small team of 4-10 trained personnel can keep the plant operational and producing some level of power for the community, or at the very least keep the plant’s residual heat removal systems running, and he doesn’t ever expect to see every single worker abandon the plant and leave it to melt-down, he expects to see at least some workers banding together to keep the plant from falling apart and melting down and beyond that, to keep the plant operational and producing power to help the community.
Just imagine what a great asset it will be, an operational nuclear power plant turning out 1300-2500 MW of power when the coal burning plant has shut down because the trains stopped bringing coal and the oil burning plant has shut down because the trains/trucks stopped bringing oil and the pipeline went dry. As long as about 10-15 people at the plant can get on-board with the idea of continuing their work, there is no reason any American plant will ever have to be left to slide into a partial core meltdown.
As for myself, assuming I find a position in the nuclear industry, as long as my family is safe and there is no more pressing issue that requires my skills (such as they are), then I would be find with staying at whatever plant I was working at, continuing my work, and keeping the plant operational and safe.
Anyway, in a collapse situation, a well-maintained and still operational nuclear plant will be one of the safest places to be, as long as security is provided/available. The building itself can withstand the 300+ mile per hour winds of an F5, the facility is hardened against a magnitude 6 earthquake, and the facility can withstand a direct hit by a civilian airliner. It would also allow the facility personnel to engage in a lot of bargaining/bartering. If I and 10 other individuals are devoting our time to not only keeping the plant safe, but delivering power that is being used by local farmers, then we would expect that they deliver some food to us on a regular basis so we don’t starve, after all if we are delivering power to them we are helping them keep their farms operating at a level above the “bare minimal” that they would be at without power for their mechanized operations. Keeping a power plant running is a win-win situation for everybody.
I know a lot of people are “off the grid” or have plans to “make do” when the grid goes down, but I’m sure most people would appreciate a steady supply of uninterrupted power in the event of a nationwide societal collapse.
I believe nuclear power is the answer to virtually all of the energy problems that are facing the USA and that will be facing the USA in the coming decades. Every state should have at least one nuclear power plant with an output of 1300 to 2500 MW (Mega Watts).
Looking at that map, I believe that the story it tells is of a lack of nuclear power in some states, and thus a need for new plant construction… In South Dakota, one or two plants, in North Dakota one plant (maybe two), in Wyoming one plant, in Idaho one or two plants, in Montana one or two plants, in Nevada two or three plants, in New Mexico one or two plants, in Oklahoma one or two plants, etc.
In the USA we are burning a HUGE amount of coal for the purpose of generating electricity. In my opinion coal (as cheap as it is) is too precious to burn because it should be used in the production of steel. If we divert American coal from energy to steel production, we might be able to revitalize the dying American steel industry. Also, you may find this interesting, you receive more radiation if you live within 50 miles of a coal burning plant than you do if you live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant.
If you live within 50 miles of a coal fired electrical utility plant you receive approximately 0.03 mrem per year, compared with 0.009 mrem per year if you live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. That is approximately 330% more from coal-fired than from nuclear. Now .03 mrem is neglible and largely irrelevant, but I thought it was worth mentioning, it just speaks to how dirty coal truly is when it is used as a source of energy.
If you’re a smoker you receive approximately 1,300 mrem, or 1.3 rem, per year. Just for a reference, the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) has a limit for annual exposure, no nuclear power plant anywhere in the nation will cause any member of the public to be exposed to any level that is equal to or greater than 100 mrem in a single calendar year from both external and internal sources of radiation in unrestricted and controlled areas.
Thanks for the insight, Bryan. Given your field of education, I would be curious to hear your opinion regarding vulnerability (if any) to EMP. Is it valid to hypothesize an EMP disabling some of the controlling electronics to a nuclear plant, thereby creating a disaster scenario?
With my limited knowledge (just a student, not an actual plant worker), I know that the plants have to be designed to withstand lightning strikes, especially the plant near my location where fierce storms are a common occurrence. As far as I know, the plants have grounding for critical components/systems so that lightning strikes cannot disrupt them, indeed they have numerous hits by lightning each year and operations are not disrupted. I don’t know how the grounding would handle/deal with an EMP though.
My initial thought is that an EMP would probably cause some sort of problem, it might not be an absolute catastrophe but it could easily be “very bad” as far as problems/situations go. I don’t know enough about the safeguards and grounding of the critical components to know how they would hold up to an EMP (as opposed to a lightning strike).
I can run the question by one of my professors sometime in the next week and relay what his answer. I am not clear on exactly what sort of shielding/grounding is used for lightning protection, and if it does or does not carry over into EMP protection. I can make some inquiries with the nuclear professors and then if necessary make some more inquiries with the electrical/electronic professors (I am in a nuclear program and an electronic/electrical program- so I can bounce questions off professors in the nuclear department and the electronic/engineering department).
Most plants have systems that will automatically shut down the reactor to prevent a major issue… Lightning CAN shut down a plant, but it usually takes a lot to achieve such a thing.
The plant in the article, that was shut down by lightning, was hit by 24 lightning strikes before a final strike hit the lightning rod on containment and tripped the electronic reactor protection system, thereby shutting down the plant. Even though they sustained 24 lightning strikes and a system was tripped that shut down the plant, damage was limited to an auxiliary system for monitoring reactor coolant temperature.
That’s another thing about nuclear plants, you’ll often read about “secondary systems,” “backup systems,” “auxiliary systems,” they have redundancy like you wouldn’t believe… If they have a primary you can bet they have 4-5 other ways to do what they need in the event the primary fails. If they have an A valve for a system, they’ll also have a B valve, C valve, D valve, and sometimes (not often, but sometimes) an E valve.
The plant in my area had to go down for a few days because one of their transformers (which allows them to draw power from the grid, outside of the plant) went down. Even though they still have their other transformer and their auxiliary diesel generator, the NRC wouldn’t let them operate without BOTH transformers available in the event they needed to draw power from outside of the plant. The point is, they have a LOT of redundancy, for something bad to happen a LOT of things have to go bad at the same time.
They even have to design for ONE design based accident to occur during the middle of a natural disaster. A typical worst case scenario plan might be “what if there is a loss of coolant accident which occurs seconds before an F5 tornado slams into the plant” their design specs have that covered.
They have multiple systems that can deal with a LOCA (Loss of Coolant Accident).
If you’re interesting in learning more (I could go on and on about some of these things, but not necessarily many of these things as my knowledge is limited) you might consider googling “acceptance criteria for emergency core cooling systems for light water nuclear power reactors” and seeing some of the criteria they have for emergency core cooling systems.
I cannot see how a Chernobyl could EVER happen in the USA, and at this point people would REALLY have to try hard to make a Three Mile Island happen again (I doubt it could happen again due to all sorts of safeguard systems that were made mandatory for new plants and that had to be installed as upgrades to existing plants, after the TMI incident).
The “worst case” scenarios that I can foresee would mostly involve a plant that has shut down (not actively producing power) losing the ability to adequately perform residual heat removal. Residual heat removal must be achieved even if the plant is not producing power. There’s no such thing as shutting down the plant and walking away from it, never to return. Residual heat must be dealt with, period.
did you ever hear from your professer how a nuclear plant would be affected by an emp attack?
Solar power, wind power, and water all produce what we need without man guarding it or the possibility of another Chernobyl . Solar power , wind and water are what god intended. Nuclear power will end us all
Germany is almost entirely fossil free, with wind and solar and geothermal power, and nuclear is being completely phased out this year. In cases of breakdown, these green power sources will not contaminate everything around them for thousands of years. If Germany can do it, why not the US?
let’s give Germany 5 yrs and see where they are at with their energy supply and resources going green.
i say let them go first and see how it turns out. i don’t look for it to turn out well.
it’s kind of like the two guys jumping off of the cliff.
yea, you go first and let me know how it turns out.
Steve Rogers, Wrong! Check your facts. Last year neatly 60% of Germany’s power Q3 of 2021 came from fossil fuels. Coal was 32%, up 20% from 2020 usage. Why do you think they are panting for the Nord 2 pipeline? Go read some from Bjorn Lomborg and Dr. Patrick Moore.
Just query Germany energy shortage. Plus Russia now has blackmail power due to natural gas pipeline. So if you get disappeared in Russia, don’t expect any assistance from western world because Russia can turn off the spigot and further shut them down. Crazy how all the jet setters and pontifcators focus on source rather than energy wastefulness of modern life for most shallow thinkers.
Note, I didn’t mean to say or even suggest that a nuclear power plant can withstand a nuclear strike, but it seems to me that the typical nuclear silo may have 2-3 feet thick of concrete, while the typical nuclear power plant has at least 12-15 feet thick of concerete along with 2-3 feet of steel. I believe the nuclear power plant to be a much more hardened facility.
As for terrorists going after a nuclear power plant with a nuclear weapon, I think that is pie in the sky. They wouldn’t use their one and only nuclear weapon to destroy/damage a nuclear power plant located in an isolated area (most nuclear power plants seem to be in counties with as few people as possible). Not that I consider the DPRK (North Korea), Pakistan, Syria, or Iran to be terrorist nations. Different ideologies and complicated governments/regimes, yes, terrorist “rogue states” no. I’m not worried about the government contrived terrorist boogeyman that is frequently touted by the media as the main threat to individual Americans. I am more worried about a reckless and out of control government that seems bent on shredding the Constitution and infringing our rights.
Anyway, if terrorists had just ONE nuclear warhead they would probably use it against Israel or against a major east-coast city (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC), possibly a major Midwest city (i.e. Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis). They almost certainly would not use it against a nuclear power plant in the middle of Georgia or Mississippi.
I don’t believe that there will ever be a terrorist nuclear incident, there may be a false flag “terrorist” incident, but it will be very unlikely that there will be a genuine terrorist nuclear incident. No state would want to be the one to give terrorists the warhead because they would become the target of massive retaliation. The leadership in North Korea does not want to wind up obliterated as their country gets obliterated via an American nuclear strike, they want to stay in power and pursue their goals, one such goal being the reunification of the Korean peninsula into one Korea. They cannot pursue that objective/goal if they are dead.
There is no such thing as a “rogue state” since all states want the same basic things. All governments want the same basic thing, to stay in power, protect the boundaries/borders of the nation, and pursue the advancement of their ideology and their internal policies. The term “rogue state” is a loaded phrase invented by Western corporate/state media to describe non-western states that won’t play ball with the NWO cabal.
Earlier this year, while looking into the Fukushima disaster (and posting on it several times), and the GE BWR reactors there, I believe that the reactor containment vessels (disregarding the concrete outer shell of the building itself) were built with 6 inches of steel – if I’m remembering correctly. I also recall reading that the majority of US reactors are BWR’s? I’m only saying this to challenge the notion of 2-3 feet of steel as you’ve indicated. That is immensely thick (for steel), and I’ve not heard of that…
Approximately one-third (1/3) of all reactors in the USA are boiling water reactors, and they are made by General Electric.
Approximately two-thirds (2/3) of all reactors in the USA are pressurized water reactors and they were made by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Babcock and Wilcox Company, and Combustion Engineering Company.
Part of the problem with the nuclear industry is that a lot of the regulatory bodies are literally PACKED with people who have no background in the industry and are without even basic education in nuclear engineering/nuclear power. For instance, in South Africa the head of their nuclear regulatory body was a political hack, just a loyal party commissar of the ANC (ruling socialist/communist party in South Africa) who was selected just because she was a loyal party member. She actually stated she was tired of the plant managers/staff treating her like an outside bureaucrat and that she didn’t believe she needed a background in nuclear engineering/power to oversee the implementation of regulations for nuclear power.
The situation is similar but not as bad in places such as Sweden, Canada, USA, etc. In the USA a large part of the problem also centers on unqualified people (usually women) being pushed ahead for reasons of PC feminism. My friend who has spent probably 25-30 years in maintenance at nuclear plants told me he personally knew a female co-worker who was literally given the answers to a test because she had repeatedly failed the test (it was some sort of certification test that was needed to be assigned to a specific sector of the plant).
My friend was basically pointing out that because of political correctness, there exists the possibility that a crisis that occurs at some given plant may have to be handled by people who failed the tests and were finally just given the answers so they could pass.
At some point in time there may very well be a major incident in an American nuclear power plant but it will not be because of some inherent danger in nuclear power or some inherent problem in the nuclear industry, it will likely be because of political correctness and the placement and promotion of unqualified individuals into sensitive areas where they don’t belong. Of course the organized anti-nuclear movement will never see it that way and if even if they did realize what the problem was, they would ignore the issues caused by rampant Political Correctness and instead focus solely on how “dangerous” nuclear plants are.
Yo Bryan, the military is very similar. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s all of the govn’t that’s that way.
I’ll reply in detail to those points, point by point shortly. For now, I’ll just say, a small nuclear device, what you speak about, a 10 kt device, I don’t know if a near hit would destroy a nuclear power plant. Keep in mind that there were bank vaults that were intact in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and we’re talking about bombs that were 18kt (little boy) and about 21kt (fat man). I don’t know how thick/hardened those bank vaults were, but I doubt they were 12-16 feet thick of concrete and 2-3 feet thick of steel. I realize that damage was pretty intensive right at the impact point/ground zero, I don’t know what impact a near hit from a small nuclear device would have on containment and/or the shield building.
I know that very little can be done about a direct hit (short of a deep and well-constructed bunker, and even that is no guarantee), but I don’t know how effective a small device with an inaccurate delivery system would be against containment/shield building. Not to mention, if you try to approach a nuclear power plant from the air there are probably protocols in place for scrambling interceptors.
I wouldn’t be surprised if plant security might even have access to man-portable shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, but I won’t speculate on that and if I knew they had them I wouldn’t confirm it online or talk about it… Suffice to say, it is said that secret service has them to protect the president from aerial/air-based threats, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if nuclear power plant security teams had one or two man-portable air-defense weapons, such as the Stinger.
I know if I were in charge of setting policy for plant security, I would make sure at least two guards on every shift are qualified/certified to operate some sort of shoulder launched SAM.
I would hope the bureaucrats in the NRC and the folks at ATF would recognize the value in having shoulder-fired SAMs available to defend nuclear facilities and thus allow plants to have access to such weapons systems if they wish to have them. I know a bit about some of the small arms that nuclear plant security has available, but I won’t comment on any of that because good guys aren’t the only ones with internet access.
I don’t know if most terrorists would know where to aim the plane. I imagine most would aim at the cooling tower as the cooling tower is typically the most recognizable feature of your typical nuclear power plant. They’d also be doing flying the plane while nervous and under pressure, they might miss the facility and it would be a near hit, which might not compromise the integrity of containment/shield building.
Is the US Mint really that high priority of a target? How much new money do they put into circulation? Also, that’s just one mint, right? There’s other mints across the nation, right? Not to mention the Federal Reserve handles printing the money, don’t they?
an earthquake, shift in earth under the plant would cause collapse. the thickness of anything wouldn’t matter if it fell…
I am a former active duty USAF JAG officer who served as our bases’ Disaster Preparedness Officer. I served on a committee along side fighter pilots and other base departments. I want to give you my opini0n on scrambling jets. Did anyone see the documentary on 9-11 and the utter chaos that ensued when they tried to scramble jets? This is not atypical. Further, even on a best day, it is not like the Cold War period (I served during that time) wherein we had planes in many bases sitting on the runway and pilots on alert status 24-7. We have reduced our bases in number and thus lengthened the response time depending on where a reactor is. Furthermore, NORAD’s response time would be far too long for any event. Most likely, the means of getting at a reactor will not entail an airplane, and if it does, then I would be very surprised if the jets got there in time—by the time the suspicious aircraft was spotted they would be in the vicinity of the reactors. The difference between restricted air space and non-restricted is difficult to determine–a plane would have to be really close to catch someone’s attention and by then, too late.
Our government has not spent time on any of the concerns that are major threats to national security, in my opinion. As I have stated in other areas of the site, they have made darn sure that they are protected from every manner of disaster for an indefinite period of time. This is not opinion, it is fact. There have been documentaries on the underground bunkers to which the government–executive, legislative and judicial would be brought to ensure “continuity of government”. For less than the price of the Mexico border wall they could have hardened our power grid, which, if affected by solar flare, EMP or other event could lead to the death of 90% of the American population. Just watch “American Blackout” on National Geographic or YouTube. It shows what would happen during the course of a blackout. It failed to get into the power plants I assume because the need for food, shelter and water would be overwhelming. Watch it, and then call your representative. This would save a power plant meltdown at the same time by helping prevent needless shutdowns from aging and vulnerable grids. Please call for a hardening of the grids especially if you live within 100 miles of a reactor!
Check out this article I wrote for Survival Blog-
American survivalists should be MUCH more worried about the chemical industry than the nuclear energy industry. If I had to make an estimate of how many people have died (worldwide) from chemical industry negligence/accidents since 1980, I would say the low estimate is about 10,000 with a high estimate of perhaps 20,000. That is in addition to about 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 being heavily sickened by the chemical industry.
The disaster in Bhopal India saw approximately 2,500 dead within minutes of the release of the isocyanate chemical. Short of a nuclear weapon/explosion, there’s basically no way for a nuclear disaster to cause 2,500 deaths within minutes. I guess you could cram 2,500 people inside containment during a core melt incident, that would probably do it, but why would those people be there? The people most at risk in nuclear incidents are the plant personnel and the emergency workers responding to the scene. Even with TMI (Three Mile Island) the releases to the general environment/public were incredibly negligible. Even if a nasty Chernobyl situation were to occur, it might result in a 10-20% increase risk of certain types of cancer.
If a major accident occurs at a chemical production plant, it is possible that an entire community could be killed within minutes depending on what agents/chemicals are involved.
With nuclear incidents, it is very rare for people outside of the plant to be put at risk. With a chemical plant, any moderate/major problem will generally put the nearby community in immediate danger/risk.
I don’t know what the world reserves are in regards to uranium, but so few countries use uranium, so there ought to be enough to go around, even though uranium is far more rare than crude oil. Although we don’t have to use explicit nuclear fission to obtain power. We could use radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which provide heat via the radioactive decay of the fuel element.
The Soviets had a program where they made somewhere around a few thousand small generators, a lot using Strontium 90 and some using Cobalt-65 (I believe they used Cobalt in some of them), although they failed to properly dispose of a large number of them. Every so often people find some metal object in the woods somewhere and they get very sick after going near it.
I believe it was in Georgia (former Soviet Republic, not the US state of Georgia) where one Strontium based generator had been discarded in the woods, and three men who were walking from one village to another saw that the area around “the metal object” -as they described it- was free from snow and as they approached it was very warm so they slept next to it for the night. The three also carried the sources on their backs and they wound up becoming very ill. The army had to bring in a team of specialists to cover the reactor and then prepare it for transport and each man was only allowed to work next to the reactor for about 60-90 seconds before he had to leave the area and let the next man in the work crew take over.
Basically what happened when the Soviet Union collapsed was that a lot of people stripped the generators of their shield metal because it was valuable as scrap metal, and they tossed the unshielded generators into the woods, swamps, hills, just dumping them throughout the countryside. If I had to make a wild guess, there could be at least 500 and perhaps as many as 1500, radioisotope thermoelectric generators, scattered throughout the countryside of the nations of the former Soviet Union.
Oh, addressing the EMP issue. My professor answered the question I posed to him about the threat posed by solar flares or other possible scenarios that might cause massive electrical interference in the form of an EMP. The primary/major systems inside the shield building are all grounded.
The shield building itself essentially operates as a shield against electrical interference, it is a steel+concrete jacket and when the airlocks are sealed the building is sealed from the outside world.
The professor was of the view that the operations of the plant would not be impacted by an EMP, solar flare, or any sort of electrical interference. He did concede that there was once an issue caused by a lightning strike because the people who did the grounding had done it improperly, grounding the wrong system to the wrong location. But, the system in question was not a primary system but an auxiliary one.
Plants are often struck by dozens of bolts of lightning in single storm situations, and as long as the grounding was properly done, there are no issues. Indeed I can only think of two or three instances where a plant had an issue, and none of the issues involved primary systems.
The threat posed to nuclear power plants by an EMP is probably very minimal, especially if the device is detonated far away.
Thanks for your leg-work on that Bryan. On another vein, I also wonder about a ‘stuxnet’ virus type issue… I suppose we we’ll never know until if and when it ever happens.
That would probably be covered under the “safeguards” issue and that information is closely guarded. You’d need to be in security or probably senior plant management, with the accompanying security clearance, just to have access to the information, and even then only if it was applicable to what you do at the plan. They have physical security, that much is known to all, and I would imagine they have cyber/electronic security as well, but I don’t know much about that.
I have only limited education/training in IT and I would think that one way to avoid a virus would be to make sure none of your critical systems or systems directly connected/linked to them have outside/internet connections. Computers dedicated for plant operations really don’t need to be online anyway, probably not. It’d be difficult to get a virus if the virus has to be physically introduced to the system.
Your professor was answering the question relative to IMMEDIATE IMPACT, not what would happen in the days after power to the plant ran out.
It takes electrical power to cool the rods. This requires fuel and the ability to use generators to power it.
There is a backup system of maybe two weeks after a major interruption of power on the power grid. After that, the rods would no longer be cooled and a melt down would begin.
That is what happened in Japan. The immediate consequence of lightning is the least of the dangers of a power plant failing. It is the inability to cool the rods that causes a meltdown.
If you live within 50-100 miles of the plant, you will be evacuated. Good luck with that, since an EMP often interrupts the power in a vehicle.
Sorry to be so gloom and doom, but I had to live with this stuff as part of my job and the public has NOT been educated on the realities of the power plant crisis.
Wish I wasn’t writing seven years after these posts. Hopefully this will be read by some people who will be curious enough to investigate the matter for themselves. Then, I hope you will be concerned enough to bug your legislators. Thank you.
Good post, living anywhere near a Nuke, IMHO, is not going to work out well if “Lights Out”.
All, I think there’s a valid point being missed here. Total destruction or even breaching the containment vessel isn’t needed to cause nuclear catastrophe. Simple malfunction of the cooling systems is all that is needed. A small bomb in a water intake would suffice to get the reaction started. This is what traditionally causes all nuclear plants to melt down. Bank vaults aren’t a good comparison; they don’t have radioactive material that needs CONSTANT cooling before the core MELTS THROUGH the containment vessel finishing off what a very small mishap with a much smaller conventional explosive could do to the cooling system. Please don’t try to educate me on rods that can contain the reaction, etc.. They are mechanical and fail. Look up nuclear disasters on wikipedia–there are a lot more than you hear about. Until we have fusion which uses elements that have a VERY short halflife we should discontinue fission based nuclear reactors as they are completely unsafe and they create waste that we have no way to contain. Do you know of any containers that last 60,000 years??? Neither do I.
All nuclear plants depend on MECHANICAL devices to avoid meltdown in a coolant loss situation therefore they are ALL ticking and highly fragile bombs.
Gerard, your comments/remarks fall into one of two categories… Remarks made out of your ignorance or remarks made with an agenda counting on the ignorance of the general public/masses in order to be accepted as valid.
You state that- “simple malfunction of the cooling systems is all that is needed. A small bomb in a water intake would suffice to get the reaction started.”
“To get the reaction started” what do you mean by that? It is IMPOSSIBLE to cause a nuclear explosion at a nuclear power plant. You could take five hundred nuclear scientists/engineers, along with dozens of military nuclear experts and they could not cause a nuclear explosion at a power plant. Power plants use U-235 enriched to about 3-5%, which is well below the level needed for a nuclear explosion. Weapons grade uranium is enriched to around 95-98%, while the lowest threshold for a “low grade” weapon would be around 35%. The most you will ever see for enrichment would be about 15-20% enrichment for nuclear submarines, especially with the old Soviet navy as they did not like to do refueling for their submarine reactors (refueling entails cutting open the haul of the submarine, cutting through containment, removing the old fuel bundles, putting new ones in, then welding things back together- America does this, the Soviets never really did this, they just enriched to about 20% so that their submarines were good for 20-25 years and they were just decommissioned when the fuel reached the end of the line).
As for your remark that “one small bomb could take out the cooling systems” which system?
There are MANY ways to deliver coolant into the reactor pressure vessel.
High Pressure Core Spray (HPCS)
Low Pressure Core Spray (LCPS)
Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC)
There is also Stand-By-Liquid Control which can dump borated water into the core and thus stop all fission as boron is a neutron poison.
Remember that in 2003 there was a MASSIVE blackout in the Northeastern USA, parts of the Midwest, and into Ontario… This blackout caused about a dozen or so nuclear plants to experience a LOOP, Loss Of Off-site Power, meaning they had to rely on their own emergency generators to power safety systems… Some plants had to deal with this problem for 3-4 days, yet there was not a single problem or any threat to the public.
When you talk about a “small bomb” disabling the coolant systems you are admitting there are multiple systems… So which system would they disable?
A “simple malfunction” in the cooling system has never resulted in a “melt-down” anywhere.
Fukushima was due to a massive disaster that was beyond what they had built/designed for, which washed away the diesel tanks that held the tens of thousands of gallons of diesel necessary to power the safety systems once the plant scrammed (shut-down) and had no access to off-site/grid power. In the USA, for the most part (I cannot speak for every nuclear power plant as I have not been to every nuclear power plant) the standard is to keep the diesel tanks buried, not exposed above-ground.
Chernobyl was due to massive human error combined with the fact that the RBMK reactors were an inherently unsafe/dangerous/unpredictable design and the fact that the Soviets realized they could save 50% on each plant by not building containment and not building a shield building. Soviet standard operating procedure, in the event of a build-up of pressure in the reactor, was to vent (irradiated) steam into the environment/community because it was decided that the reactor/plant was too important/costly to risk and that irradiating citizens was not a major issue. Chernobyl is purely Soviet, it could only have happened in the Soviet Union or a country/culture with a similar disregard for human life. Chernobyl would NEVER have happened in France, Switzerland, the UK, or the USA.
Three Mile Island was due to poor training and the operators inability to recognize and identify a loss of coolant accident for what it was. This could NEVER happen again in the USA due to automated systems, redundant systems, back-ups to those redundant systems, tremendous improvements in training (as in 18+ months of training just to be a non-licensed operator working in the plant, 18+ months of training/classes just to be allowed to sit for an RO- reactor operator, exam, and requirements that each Reactor Operator/Senior Reactor Operator spend X weeks per year in the simulator… Usually it is 1 week every 5 weeks has to be spent in the simulator).
For hostile individuals/terrorists/invading commandos/paratroopers/whatever/etc, to cause a melt-down they would need much much more than “one small bomb” and they would need unrestricted/unhindered access to the plant, for multiple hours, and they would need to know their way around the plant, and know how to electrically AND mechanically disable about 7 or 8 different systems.
US and Canadian nuclear plants have very well trained security teams that are very well armed/equipped. They are subjected to tests by military special forces teams that try to gain entry into the plant… As far as I know not a single special forces team has ever made it into a radiologically significant area (meaning an area where they could cause damage to the plant, steal radiological materials, put the public in danger, etc). At the plant near where I live the most the special forces teams have been able to achieve was to penetrate the first fence, which is the basic security barrier to keep out the general public, and make it to the outside of the general plant building (this is not radiologically significant and they could not harm the public from that location).
They’ve never made it into the control room or the shield building.
If special forces teams cannot pull it off, I doubt that jihadist terrorists would be able to manage to do such a thing.
So not only would they have to be able to overcome the security forces (something that special forces have been unable to do), they would need to know how to identify the crucial systems/controls, how to operate those systems/controls, and then how to electrically and mechanically disable various systems, all of which are redundant and can draw power from various sources.
So in short, no, the nuclear power plants are not “ticking time bombs” waiting to destroy the communities in which they are located.
Your characterization of nuclear plants/reactors as “fragile ticking time bombs” is either erroneous (spoken out of your own ignorance as to the facts) or it is a deceptive remark made due to an anti-nuclear agenda. Whatever the case may be, your remarks are unfounded and incorrect. They have no basis in fact.
You never (really) answered Gerard’s point…(in “letter”, perhaps, but not in the spirit of his comment): namely, the mechanical necessity for cooling, and indeed done with (100%) certainty of LONG TERM cooling delivery – through mechanical systems, for hundreds of reactors.
Please focus on the primary peril/issue: systemic outside power delivery breakdown…whether nationwide/regionwide/worldwide. (There is more than one type of scenario that could accomplish this, and hence the concern by all of us.) Therefore, this may involve, potentially hundreds of reactors needing back up fuel/parts for potentially weeks/months (or worse). It seems impossible to bring (near certainty) for this; and yet “this” is what needs to be guaranteed, since if not, the “cost” is so calamitous, that it’s without proper word delineation.
I used to be for this energy source. But now I’m concerned that there are too many situations (that are not within the realm of human understanding); all-the-more, given that it “only takes one big one”.
Other nations (such as France) manage to find the political will to recycle/reprocess spent fuel and use it again and again. As for the storage of waste, Yucca Mountain was a very viable option and remains a viable option (in terms of being viable from a technical/physical perspective, politically it has been killed by politicians who probably do not know that the cooling towers release water vapor and NOT steam, certainly not irradiated steam, nor that fission and fusion are different things). These politicians have no business regulating an industry that they know absolutely nothing about.
I bet if you asked Obama to “tell me about those fusion reactors in Japan and how they melted down” he would make some silly remark out of ignorance rather than correcting you and stating, “you mean fission reactors, right? nobody has a fusion reactor, yet.”
Most people are afraid of things they do not understand. Ultimately it boils down to a question of whether people want to sit in the dark, burn coal, burn natural gas, burn oil (which is already expensive enough), rely on heavily subsidized and poor performing wind power (because it cannot compete without massive subsidies), or use nuclear power which is cheap, easy, and safe.
The so-called green lobby, which today is merely a front for the wind industry, doesn’t talk much about solar, all they talk about is wind and how nuclear has to go. That’s because there isn’t much profit for mega corporations in solar, solar is mostly about individual households/farms getting off the grid. The mega corporations cannot make billions off of solar like they can with wind. Hence the co-opted and controlled green lobby pushes a pro-wind anti-nuclear agenda even when they know wind power cannot compete on the same level and it is horribly inefficient.
For individuals/country farms/people looking to get off the grid, solar may be an excellent answer.
For industry and for cities/suburbs, nuclear is the way forward.
If we want to stop burning oil, which is really too precious to burn for the sake of producing electricity, then we need more nuclear plants. We also need more oil refineries, but due to massive regulations they cost several billion dollars each and take years to build and bring online. Since they also reek beyond imagination, few people want one in their area. We have a massive refinery capability in this nation but it still is not enough… We need all oil resources devoted to petroleum and petroleum products, we cannot afford to squander oil by burning it to produce electricity.
Wind power is beyond laughable, it takes up a huge amount of land… There is a wind farm in Texas that sits on 600,000 acres of land and produces an underwhelming 700 MW (Mega-Watts) of power. Compare with any given US nuclear plant which has about 1,000 to 1,500 acres of land (most of which is for security/buffer reasons) with each reactor producing around 1,300 MW (Mega-Watts) of power.
Also, given that you cannot get something for nothing, wind turbines are doubtlessly impacting the climate in their areas… When you remove kinetic energy from the wind and convert it into mechanical energy or electrical energy, you are lessening the wind, changing a storm system. To my knowledge it has not been properly investigated or documented but I have no doubt that the rise in massive wind farms in states such as Texas, such as that 600,000 acre wind farm in central/west Texas, contribute to and even cause draughts down-wind.
Some others are asking similar questions-
The largest wind farm in the world goes online in Texas and then BAM the worst drought in Texas history…
Why? Because nothing is free, energy is neither created nor destroyed, it only changes forms. Potential energy to kinetic energy… Chemical energy to electrical energy, etc…
When you use the wind to create power you are taking energy out of the storm/system, thus you impact what happens down-wind of where the energy is taken out of the storm/system. Kinetic/wind to Mechanical and/or Electrical… It is not free, it has an impact.
It’s not exactly my area of study/focus but I would strongly suspect that if you were to build millions of wind turbines across the Western states, you would soon see a drought of Biblical proportion.
Actually it seems that a fair amount of people, indeed experts/scientists, are raising the alarm about the threat posed by windmills.
“Large groups of power-generating windmills could have a small influence on a region’s climate. All large wind turbines disrupt natural airflow to extract energy from wind.” Science Daily
“Results from climate modeling studies by myself and others suggest that large-scale use of wind power can alter local and global climate.”
University of Calgary
“Researchers are investigating the potential for large wind farms in one region to alter weather patterns in another region downwind.”
you forgot a decommitioned one in Washington. Located in Satsop, Washington to be specific.
Did anyone happen to notice the UNCANNY way that this map inversely resembles the post 2012 Navy and Edward Casey maps of America? I mean, the only anomalies seem to be decommissioned (like Colorado) and those situated around the great lakes which I would assume would be subject to flooding at least short term in most disaster situations that proceed the longer lasting changes shown in the maps. Perhaps I a simply crazy, maybe my accusers are correct :), but could that be, say…… hmm… planned?? Having the in areas where there will be an influx of water seems obviously planned since upon catastrophe they would be cooled (as they did at Fukoshima with the pumping of the water and the helicopters etc) and the meltdown would be of course devastating but the radiation would be contained within the water instead of whatever horrible things happen if there isn’t water? I am not as well versed or an expert (obviously) as you guys are. But I know the maps and when I saw the above map I saw the Navy maps inverse. Just saying…. :(
All things mechanical or made by man have room for error. Nothing is perfect. Radiation scares me. Sorry but it just gives me an uneasy feeling. No matter how many facts and figures you give me to tell me how safe it is, history proves otherwise. You cannot control the forces of nature or man. Nothing is 100% perfect.
Wind turbines, I believe may have done something to our weather and they take up farming land. Just like the craziness of using corn to make ethanol!!! That is idiotic. Using corn crops is using food for fuel when oil is available, just like enviromentalists have shut down our access to it!
I agree with texas girl.
What would be safe distance for city from a ship using nuclear propulsion. Here in San Diego, US NAvy ships are berthed within a mile of populations of >25,000 people.
Nuclear energy is not an option. It’s a lot easier to dismantle a wind turbine farm than a faulty nuclear plant. By 5 million years, why do you think nations are trying to dismantle nuclear weapons ( except Iran)?
The map of decommissioned plants is misleading. Most are planned construction sites which never progressed to any nuclear material. There is no radiological concerns with those sites. Maybe I do not understand the purpose of the map. In regard to many of the discussions, the SAFER FLEX program should be included as a emergency response capability.
Living within 50 miles of “a disaster waiting to happen”, decided to look into records of nuclear site closest to me to research this plants history. Dangerous situations were going on untouched until a whistle blower decided it was to dangerous to allow it to continue. She has paid$ a price for reporting the incompetent actions of the irresponsible utility company running A nuclear plant very irresponsibly. But for now, this plant was forced to fix the issues. But these dangerous plants made to run for only 40 years are being extended to run for 20+ years over what they were intended to run and at a capacity that surpasses recommendation. It is all about money and they do not care what it takes to get their money. This is not the only plant that has been playing with a disaster. Human error is a huge factor not to mention all other possibilities. Check into your plants history if you dare. We are moving outside the 50 mile radius and would move further if family was not a deciding factor. Do not wish to loose everything we own if we have to leave due to human error or other such possibilities. You will not be able to return for a very very long time, if ever, if you happen to be in these zones. It is insanity that runs and ruins this beautiful country. We do not need these dangerous plants and why many are being closed across the country backs up this fact. In fact, one plant that was built in the late 70’s and has been sitting there all this time is not going to be commissioned per my representative. But the other plant described above is this utilities most productive site they own (and they own many)and produces billions of dollars a year for them. I wonder where the owners of these plants reside? Needless to say, not near the nuclear plants they own.
Also, studies have proven cancers increase in areas where these nuclear plants reside. That alone should disqualify their existence.
What about non-power research and test reactors like some universities operate. If they have a melt down, what distance should be observed to safely avoid any radiation contamination?
I just read an article by one of your reporters that told us that it is usually believed that a 50 mile radius is considered to be relatively safe. In this one you say 100. Not taking wind into the equation of course, which is it. The closest active one to me is 84 miles South East.
Put it this way; when you read about fires in California; why do you think News Channels across the entire US report it even on the east coast. It’s because prevailing winds can carry the smoke and ash great distances. The united states has been affected by dust storms that have occurred in the Saharan Dessert which is around 4,682 miles away.
What a silly way to make electric… Germany, the manufacturer or BMW, Porsche, VW and Mercedes-Benz, made over 50% of it’s electric from solar on June 21st 2014 and they get far less sun than most of the U.S. (Search Germany 50 percent solar the week).
The fact that property value around Nuclear Plants is significantly less tells us something. What is the danger of radiation if a solar field or farm is attacked? Zero.
The fact this map exists and there are hits galore show these ancient nuclear dinosaurs are public concerns — though oil or coal are literal dinosaurs — give me that compared to radiation. Really. The half-life is just too long. It’s only electric, guys.
Some time has passed since this string began. Let’s sum up the problems with “managing” nuclear power on our planet:
1. The nuclear fuel cycle involves tearing up the surface of the earth to “mine” nuclear fuel. Then it must be transferred through a dusty process to a refinery for processing. Then the fuel must be transferred from processing plant to the reactor site and transferred into fuel rods. As the rods are depleted the spent fuel must be removed and stored at the site, at a temporary storage facility and “ultimately” at a permanent storage facility. There is no permanent storage facility on this planet. Despite its wonderful power the United States government has never made good on its promise to create such a facility. Utility companies operating NPPs have been required to pay advance deposits as a down payment on the U.S. government obligation to provide “safe” permanent storage. The ultimate cost of such storage, however, remains the continuing obligation of the utility. Similarly, the utility is obligated for the ultimate costs of tearing down a retired NPP and safely storing the waste materials. The latest trend is for utilities to sell the retired NPP to a deconstruction corporate entity. I’m not sure if this will effectively transfer the liability away from the utility and ratepayers. It is very clear that this system is broken. The whole fantasy of a safe nuclear fuel cycle cannot be realized since radiation risk is higher at every point than it was when the unprocessed ore was underground.
2. A tidal wave, an earthquake, a terrorist attack, a fire that disrupts safety protocols all offer the threat of an otherwise avoidable release of radiation.
3. Weapons into plowshares sounds good but in the case of trying to get something good from the development of nuclear weapons it has been our worst mistake. It is time to stop.
It is super abundantly clear that the only nuclear power we need is provided by a nuclear power resource located 93 million miles from Earth. The Sun offers us heat and light on a daily basis. The daily warm-up and cool down offers a pretty reliable cycle of wind as well. We have learned how to generate electricity pretty cheaply from this resource and we are learning a range of methods for storing that generated energy overnight, over hundreds of miles and over a season. It is clearly time to stop fooling around with nuclear power. Shut it all down as soon as possible. Redirect nuclear engineering efforts to shutting them down, not “making them safe” in imaginary ways. Renewable energy is cheaper anyway.
I’m not seeing Alaska or Hawaii on this map. I don’t think there is a nuclear plant in Hawaii but I do know the US Military has several nuclear submarines stationed in Hawaii. I also do not see Alaska. I currently live within a major red zone where more than one nuclear facility would effect me. Whoever thought nuclear power was a great idea needs their brain examined! There are much safer forms of energy available thats also much cheaper to produce but that would effect the power companies bottom line! It’s always about $$!
Was thinking because or wind patterns wouldn’t the dead zones be better centered say a (on the map) about a millimeter up and 2 to three millimeters right of center to better cover the most polluted area’s in a meltdown/release situation ?
The exclusion zone in japan, the affected area polluted was less land and more ocean because of the wind.
If the wind was blowing west instead of east the situation would have been far worse.