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I call your reactor built on karst and raise you nine US sea shore reactors, one of which, the aptly named Turkey Point Reactor in Dade County, Florida also relies on its diesel generators when hurricanes come ashore!

How the U.S. narrowly avoided its own Fukushima-style disaster in 1992

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is refusing to update its worst case scenario models for the flooding of coastal U.S. nuclear power plants. Potentially, this puts the backup safety systems at reactors like the Turkey Point plant in Miami-Dade county, Florida, at risk of damage or destruction by hurricanes.

That's the bombshell buried in a piece by Alyson Kenward of Climate Central:

   The extent of sea level rise that [utility company Florida Power and Light] has incorporated into their estimates of the maximum possible storm surge has already become a point of contention in the safety assessment for the new Turkey Point reactors. The Miami-Dade County Climate Change Advisory Task Force (CCATF) has called for the NRC to request that a much higher level of sea level rise be included in the assessment.


Potentially the most hazardous incident was a loss of access to external power for five days. Engineers at Turkey Point were forced to rely on the on-site diesel generators to maintain cooling of the reactors' cores. Fortunately, this back-up system was enough to keep everything operating safely. In Japan, however, an equivalent back-up system was wiped out by the tsunami.

But that's OK, says the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, because their model of the worst case scenario at Turkey Point puts the plant's safety systems a healthy 1.2 feet above the highest-possible storm-whipped surge.

Can't beat the ocean for a heat sink -- or a radiation sink either, for that matter. Guess the designers really had to sharpen their pencils to get that 1.2 feet.

And then there is this, also from the same piece by Alyson Kenward:

In a 2008 study with graduate student Natalie Kopytko, Perkins specifically assessed what risks sea level rise posed for nine reactors along the East and West Coasts. Their findings, Perkins says, show that sea level rise isn't only important in terms of long term changes at the shoreline adjacent to nuclear plants. "[Kopytko] showed it was storms that were really behind the risk. These are U.S. coastal reactors, and hurricanes can pile an awful lot of water in front of them."

In their study, Perkins and Kopytko used estimates of future sea level to calculate how much water might encroach upon nuclear plants. They found that the plants in the U.S. were all built high enough to withstand sea level rise alone over the next 50 years (which goes beyond the expected operating lifetime of the current plants). But they also discovered that with the IPCC's expected rate of sea level rise, storm surges from Category 4 or 5 hurricanes will completely inundate the nuclear plants within their projected lifetimes. Their findings were published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Energy Policy.

As sea levels continue to rise, scientists say the storm surges of these hurricanes will get even larger. Worse yet, climate scientists now believe that while Atlantic hurricanes may become less frequent later this century, they're likely to get more powerful on average.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:22:02 PM EST
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