Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:55 AM EDT

Nuclear Power Plants in the US Aren't Built For Climate Change

Apr 22, 2019 02:32 PM EDT

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Nuclear Power Plant
(Photo : https://pixabay.com/photos/landscape-switzerland-aargau-nature-4126288/)

The fall of the Fukushima-Daiichi Power Plant in Japan, after the 2011 earthquake that resulted to a massive tsunami has brought worry and fear to Director Gregory Jaczko, then the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). There were two main concerns Jaczko has: how the radioactive fallout in Japan would affect the US and the possibility of it ever happening to the US Power Plants.

The answer to the first concern is luckily NO. However, the second question still preoccupies the mind of experts in nuclear technology. The NRC directed all managers of more than 60 working nuclear power plants in the US to make an assessment of their current flood risk. They were told to use the latest in weathering technology to help them make a more thorough assessment. They were also told to also include the adverse effects of climate change and how it could affect the operations of nuclear plants.

The companies were told to make a comparison of those risks with what the power plants were made to survive. If they detect a gap, it is best that they are able to identify how it can be resolved. The process has revealed, since, that there is a huge gap in many identifiable areas. However, Jaczko and others surrounding the industry said that under the commission's new leadership, there has been little to nothing done for preventive measures. While the risk of climate change continues to rise, the owners of nuclear power plants in the US have been required with almost nothing.

According to the Bloomberg review, 54 of the operating nuclear power plants in the US was not designed and built to withstand the current flood risk on its way. Out of the total number identified, 19 of these power plants face three or four other threats that they particularly designed to handle. How do they survive these?
"There will always be that perennial problem dealing with high technology plants as one would always ask what is safe enough for everyone," said Matthew Wald. Wald is a senior communications advisor at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the U.S. nuclear power industry's main trade association.  He further added that while what happened with the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan was extremely unfortunate, the nuclear meltdowns are "vanishingly small."

He further added that while what happened with the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan was extremely unfortunate, the nuclear meltdowns outside of it are "vanishingly small."

"The independent nuclear power plants run by civilians in the US exceeds the safety requirements set by the NRC by marginally a substantial amount," Wald added. He also emphasized that the power plants in question produce more than half of the electricity that powers the entire country. The best part of it is that it is carbon-free electricity.

While plant owners may not have been required to storm-proof their plants, the Union of Concerned Scientists has conducted their own projection of possible storms that could affect the regions where the power plants are located. They remain hopeful that the management of these power plants will put the risks they have identified into better use.

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