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Nuclear Trouble: 16 Reactors in the Path of Hurricane Sandy

Nuclear experts are sounding the alarm on the potential of a Fukushima-like disaster happening in the U.S.
 
 
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16 nuclear reactors are in the potential path of Hurricane Sandy, the powerful storm bearing down on the East Coast of the United States, according to Reuters.

“There are more than a dozen nuclear plants near Hurricane Sandy's path in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, providing power to millions of customers in the region,” the news outlet reported.

News website Common Dreams notes that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is “dispatching additional inspectors to provide ‘enhanced oversight’ at 8 reactors.”

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen was on Democracy Now! this morning and discussed how the storm might impact nuclear power plants. He pinpointed one plant, the Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey, as posing particularly worrisome problems.

“The biggest problem, as I see it right now, is the Oyster Creek plant, which is on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. That appears to be right about the center of the storm. Oyster Creek is the same design, but even older than Fukushima Daiichi unit 1,” said Gundersen. “It’s in a refueling outage. That means that all the nuclear fuel is not in the nuclear reactor, but it’s over in the spent fuel pool. And in that condition, there’s no backup power for the spent fuel pools. So, if Oyster Creek were to lose its offsite power—and, frankly, that’s really likely—there would be no way cool that nuclear fuel that’s in the fuel pool until they get the power reestablished.”

Gundersen added that “It’s a question of the loss of offsite power. That’s exactly what happened after Fukushima Daiichi. The earthquake destroyed the offsite power....My big concern is diesel reliability and the fact that nuclear plants don’t have to cool their nuclear fuel pools off their diesels per NRC regulations. I think those are the two big concerns for Hurricane Sandy.”

Also on Common Dreams is an article by Gar Smith looking at the “Fukushima Factor.”

“Especially worrisome are several GE Mark 1 reactors that share the same design flaws as the three GE-built reactors that lost power, suffered meltdowns and exploded in Fukushima, Japan,” Smith, the  co-founder of Environmentalists Against War, writes. “The eight Fukushima-style reactors located in Sandy’s path are: Fitzpatrick (New York), Hope Creek (New Jersey), Nine Mile Point 1 (New York), Oyster Creek (New Jersey), Peach Bottom 1 & 2 (Pennsylvania), Pilgrim (Massachusetts), and Vermont Yankee (Vermont).”
 

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 
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