What Are The Odds? U.S. Nuke Plants Ranked By Quake Risk

What Are The Odds? U.S. Nuke Plants Ranked By Quake Risk

Mar 22


MSNBC.com has published a very informative article that ranks the earthquake risk of U.S. nuclear plants. The complete, original article is located here:

By Bill Dedman
March 17, 2011

Original Link



What are the odds that a nuclear emergency like the one at Fukushima Dai-ichi could happen in the central or eastern United States? They’d have to be astronomical, right? As a pro-nuclear commenter on msnbc.com put it this weekend, “There’s a power plant just like these in Omaha. If it gets hit by a tsunami….”

It turns out that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has calculated the odds of an earthquake causing catastrophic failure to a nuclear plant here. Each year, at the typical nuclear reactor in the U.S., there’s a 1 in 74,176 chance of an earthquake strong enough to cause damage to the reactor’s core, which could expose the public to radiation. No tsunami required…

And it turns out that the nuclear reactor in the United States with the highest risk of an earthquake causing core damage is not the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, with its twin reactors tucked between the California coastline and the San Andreas Fault.

It’s not the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a four-hour drive down the Pacific coast at San Clemente, surrounded by fault lines on land and under the ocean.

It’s not on the Pacific Coast at all. It’s on the Hudson River.

The reactor with the highest risk rating is 24 miles north of New York City, in the village of Buchanan, N.Y., at the Indian Point Energy Center. There, on the east bank of the Hudson, Indian Point nuclear reactor No. 3 has the highest risk of earthquake damage in the country, according to new NRC risk estimates provided to msnbc.com…

The plant with the second highest risk? It’s in Massachusetts. Third? Pennsylvania. Then Tennessee, Pennsylvania again, Florida, Virginia and South Carolina. Only then does California’s Diablo Canyon appear on the list, followed by Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island…


Based on 2008 data, a map of earthquake damage risk in the United States. The highest risk areas are purple, red and orange. Click graphic to see larger image.


The Top 10

Here are the 10 nuclear power sites with the highest risk of an earthquake causing core damage, showing their NRC risk estimates based on 2008 and 1989 geological data.

1. Indian Point 3, Buchanan, N.Y.: 1 in 10,000 chance each year. Old estimate: 1 in 17,241. Increase in risk: 72 percent.

2. Pilgrim 1, Plymouth, Mass.: 1 in 14,493. Old estimate: 1 in 125,000. Increase in risk: 763 percent.

3. Limerick 1 and 2, Limerick, Pa.: 1 in 18,868. Old estimate: 1 in 45,455. Increase in risk: 141 percent.

4. Sequoyah 1 and 2, Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.: 1 in 19,608. Old estimate: 1 in 102,041. Increase in risk: 420 percent.

5. Beaver Valley 1, Shippingport, Pa.: 1 in 20,833. Old estimate: 1 in 76,923. Increase in risk: 269 percent.

6. Saint Lucie 1 and 2, Jensen Beach, Fla.: 1 in 21,739. Old estimate: N/A.

7. North Anna 1 and 2, Louisa, Va.: 1 in 22,727. Old estimate: 1 in 31,250. Increase in risk: 38 percent.

8. Oconee 1, 2 and 3, Seneca, S.C.: 1 in 23,256. Old estimate: 1 in 100,000. Increase in risk: 330 percent.

9. Diablo Canyon 1 and 2, Avila Beach, Calif.: 1 in 23,810. Old estimate: N/A.

10. Three Mile Island, Middletown, Pa.: 1 in 25,000. Old estimate: 1 in 45,455. Increase in risk: 82 percent.

A ranking of the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors is shown at the bottom of MSNBC.com’s article.



NRC FAQ About Risks To U.S. Nuclear Plants From Earthquake Or Tsunami (pdf)

• USGS Earthquake History Of Each State

• A USGS brochure describing the changes in the 2008 seismic hazard maps (pdf)

• The NRC report with new earthquake risk estimates (pdf)

• An NRC fact sheet from November 2010 “Seismic Issues for Existing Nuclear Power Plants”

• The NRC database of active nuclear reactors in the U.S. Each reactor name links to technical and safety documents.

• Industry response to questions about the situation in Japan (pdf)

• A scientific paper describing the New Madrid earthquake, and what can be learned by melding modern science with writings from long ago.

• A brochure with a table comparing values for magnitude and peak ground acceleration

• The ranking of 104 nuclear plants by risk, by msnbc.com from NRC data, in an Excel spreadsheet file

• Where Are All The Nuclear Reactors In America?

• Japanese March 11, 2011 Earthquake-Tsunami & Aftermath Resource Page



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