Fri Aug 26th, 2011 at 12:27:56 PM EST
Hurricane Irene is now on track to "beach-sweep" much of the US Eastern shore, from North Carolina to Maine, and it looks like it's final destination is to come ashore near NY City and then cruise on up the Hudson River, dumping massive amounts of rain. It will most likely do this when tides are maxed out due to a full moon.
The Hudson River normally gets tidal action almost all the way to Albany, and sometimes there are "standing waves" that are discernible some distance up the River. But, 10 foot plus storm surges from a major hurricane that coincide with a full moon tide - not good. There will be a lot of waterfront and riverfront damaged - and perhaps a lot of the Amtrak rails that connect NYC to Albany and Montreal are going to get water and other damage.
But, all that is chump change when one considers what is sitting on the waterfront 38 miles north of midtown Manhattan - the Indian Point nuclear complex. These are two big reactors (about 1300 MW and 1100 MW) that supplied NYC with about 1863.1 MW of electricity (on average) last year. This wikipedia link wikipedia link has a nifty picture of these twin potential doom engines for a large part of the NYC metro region, with about 30 million or more people in "internal tanning range".
Anyway, when massive water walls of water interact with sea-level situated nukes, the results can be ...not good. Then lets take a water-sodden ground and intense wind gusts associated with a big area hurricane going onshore, and lots of grid damage can happen. And when a grid connection happens combined with a back-up diesel system fails to activate, you get a "Loss of Cooling Accident" or LOCA. That is NEVER a good thing. And if that continues for more than a few hours, well, the stinky stuff really hits the proverbial fan. That is really bad, and is NOT supposed to ever happen. But it has happened before...
So, maybe that site should just be put into shutdown mode pronto, control rods fully inserted in both nukes, and get those back-up diesels activated. If they don't work as they should right away (and that has also happened, more than once, at places like the Fermi 2 nuke in Michigan), maybe they will be working by the time Irene comes to town. And maybe they ought to get more back-up gen-sets lined up in case the back-up diesels get swamped, or some other Black Swan event rears its ugly head, care of Mr. Murphy and his nefarious laws.
What do you think about that idea?