…Bloomberg is Trying to Scare You…
The headline of the Bloomberg exposé was, U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Weren’t Built for Climate Change.
The article’s only purpose had to be to scare people over nuclear power and climate change.
The article couldn’t have been to inform people because Bloomberg withheld important information. For example, the article said nuclear power plants faced up to four or more flooding risks for which the plants hadn’t been designed.
What were those risks? Was one the possibility of an asteroid hitting in the Gulf of Mexico? Probably not, but the other risks could have been just as extreme. Especially if they included climate change with sea rise based on the worst IPCC computer projection, RCP 8.5.
RCP 8.5, with a temperature rise of 8.6 degrees F, is the choice for everyone trying to scare people.
It’s not possible to say that the Bloomberg article is wrong, because the assumptions used to make the dramatic claim that nuclear power plants aren’t prepared for flooding are omitted from the article.
A quick review of the issue is warranted.
The Fukushima disaster was caused by a Tsunami with a wave height of over 30 feet, that violently flooded the area around the power plants and destroyed both the connection to the grid and the backup generators that were to supply emergency power to drive the pumps that supplied cooling water to the reactor and storage pools.
Compare that with the flooding scenarios in the Bloomberg article. Flooding would be caused either by a hurricane or heavy rains that flooded rivers.
First, it is very likely that the reactors would be shutdown if a hurricane was heading directly toward a nuclear power plant. A sudden shutdown is not unusual and the plants are designed to shutdown automatically without problems.
In either the case of a hurricane or of a flooded river, the power line from the grid would have to be cutoff to create a problem. If there is no interruption in power supply from the grid, there is no problem and no emergency.
Cutting off power from the grid can’t be ruled out which is why there are backup generators to supply power to the cooling pumps.
The back up generators would supply the power needed to keep the cooling water flowing and thereby keep the reactors and stored fuel rods safe.
It takes time for the reactors or cooling pools to heat up which provides time to take action if the backup diesel generators are not able to function.
The Tsunami at Fukushima devastated the surrounding area, including roads, making it impossible to gain access to the plants to do anything after the backup diesels had been destroyed.
Following the Fukushima disaster, the NRC performed a review of existing US nuclear power plants. As a result, the industry installed flexible backup procedures in the event the backup diesel generators were destroyed.
The Bloomberg article derided these procedures, and attacked the Trump appointed members, introducing politics into what is an engineering issue.
These flexible procedures have been approved by the NRC and, being flexible, are best suited to meet unforeseen contingencies.
The Bloomberg article has created fear without justification. They omit the assumptions behind their assertions so it’s impossible to evaluate the credibility of their accusations.
Factually, climate change is not going to have any significant effect on the dangers to which nuclear reactors will be exposed.
The existing precautions and procedures should ensure that the US reactors are safe from weather events such as hurricanes and heavy rains that cause flooding.
Reactors can shutdown safely as long as the backup generators are not disabled. The Bloomberg article did not provide any information that would indicate why the backup generators aren’t safe. In addition, a flexible procedure and equipment are available in the remote event the backup generators are disabled.
Its up to the fear mongers to supply proof that weather events and climate change could create a meltdown at any US reactor.
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