Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sea Level Rise Brings Added Risks to Coastal Nuclear Plants

Power has finally been restored to all the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, nearly two weeks after the facility was ravaged by a 30-foot tsunami, giving Japanese officials new hope they can keep the crisis from spinning further out of control. 
With some of the immediate danger of a complete meltdown on hold and much hazardous work remaining, authorities are only starting to investigate exactly what happened, and what extra safety features might have prevented the disaster.  
They’re not the only ones. In many parts of the world, including the United States, nuclear reactors are often located near the ocean, due to their requirement for abundant supplies of water for cooling purposes. And while tsunamis aren’t a threat everywhere, the sea can pose other challenges. Hurricanes, for example, can push walls of water ahead of them, like the storm surge that did most of the damage to New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina swept through in 2005. In fact, one U.S. nuclear plant has already been dealt a direct hit by a severe hurricane. In 1992, when Category 5 Hurricane Andrew hammered the Turkey Point power plant in southern Miami-Dade County, Fla., its nuclear reactors were unharmed despite extensive damage to other parts of the facility. More >>>