Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Nuclear Facts

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There is a fascinating article at The Daily Beast  (  regarding nuclear power production in the United States.  The article has to do with the vulnerability of America's nuclear power plants based on a number of factors - most of which relate to location (number of people residing within 50 miles, likelihood of an earthquake, expected number of hurricanes in the next century, miles to a potentially active volcano, and number of significant tornadoes to affect the location within the last hundred years.)  There is so much good information that it would probably take sorting onto an Excel spreadsheet in order to fully comprehend its significance.  (That may be my next project!)

According to what I have just read, America currently has 105 nuclear reactors on 65 sites - all within the lower forty-eight states.  The oldest to be licensed was the R.E. Guinn reactor near Ontario, New York in 1969.  The most recent to be licensed and go on-line was the Watts Barr reactor near Spring City, Tennessee, in 1996.  In addition to the license issue in 1969, 49 licenses were issued in the 1970's, 49 in the 1980's, and six in the 1990's.

Power companies love to whine that there have been no new plans for any nuclear reactors in the United States in last thirty or forty years, and that may well be - but it gives the impression that nuclear power has been dead in its tracks for three or four decades, and that is false.  The last nuclear reactor went on line less than fifteen years ago.

Sixty-seven nuclear reactors are located within fifty miles of populations greater than one million people.  Forty-six are within fifty miles of populations in excess of two million people.  Sixteen are within that same distance of over five million people, and one, Indian Point near Buchanan, New York, is within fifty miles of over 17 million individuals!

Eight of these nuclear power plants are located within 250 miles of a potentially active volcano,  one has a likelihood of 5 (out of a possible 6) of being in an earthquake at some point, fifty-four are in areas that can reasonably expect to have over twenty hurricanes in the next century, and twelve are in areas that have seen over twenty significant tornadoes in the past century.

That's a lot of dice rolling every day of every year.  Sooner or later we're going to crap out somewhere - and it will be in a big way!

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