This morning’s quake on the other side of the world has implications for nuclear plants here in the U.S. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), through its regional office in Arlington, TX, announced they are closely monitoring this situation – the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami – as it unfolds with respect to nuclear facilities within the United States.
Earlier today the NRC issued a “notice of unusual event” (NOUE) at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located near San Luis Obispo, CA. In addition to the Diablo Canyon plant, the NRC is also monitoring the San Onofre nuclear power plant, the Humboldt Bay spent fuel storage site and NRC-regulated nuclear materials sites in Hawaii and Alaska to name a few.
A push to build new nuclear facililties in the U.S. has catapulted the nation’s aging nuclear industry into the limelight and the NRC is being quick to assure the public that nuclear power plants are engineered to withstand environmental hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.
The NRC claims plants are designed to take into account the most severe natural phenomena historically reported for the site and surrounding area. Still, while the emergency situation at two Japanese plants is seemingly contained at this point, with one Texas plant situated on the hurricane prone Texas Gulf coast and the other in the middle of tornado alley, one has to wonder . . . what if we haven’t yet seen the most severe natural phenomena for those areas?