Earthquakes and Nuclear Plants | Conservation Law Foundation

Earthquakes and Nuclear Plants

Sandy Levine

The earthquake yesterday had us all wondering about our friends who were closer to it.  After the earthquake, a  colleague from Virginia noted:  “We all abandoned our building, which is probably not what you are supposed to do, but it seemed safer to be on the street than the third floor of a violently shaking building.  What’s even more scary is that the epicenter was essentially under Dominion’s North Anna nuclear plant.  When the NRC came out with a report last March ranking North Anna 7th in the country in terms of risk of damage from an earthquake, the Dominion spokesman noted that the plant was designed to withstand a magnitude 5.9-6.1 earthquake.”

Well that’s about what yesterday’s earthquake was.  And similar to the events in Japan, only three of four back-up generators were operating.  As CLF’s president, John Kassel said after the Fukushima tragedy:  “Several of New England’s remaining nuclear power plants are on their last legs and continuing to prop them up at the taxpayers’ expense is not a viable long-term strategy.”    These margins are too tight.  As these events show, Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight for safety is too lax in the face of Fukushima and the inevitability of earthquakes and other disasters.

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