Monday, March 14, 2011

Nuclear Power Reactors Near New York City, and Their Earthquake Vulnerability

There are several operating nuclear power reactors within 100 miles of New York City, with varying levels of vulnerability to earthquakes.

- The closest is the Indian Point Energy Center, located 24 miles north of the city on the Hudson River. Indian Point 2 and 3 are operating and produce roughly 30 percent of the energy used by New York City; Indian Point 1 was permanently shut down in 1974.

Researchers from Columbia University have located a previously unknown active seismic zone (the "Ramapo Fault line system") running less than a mile north of Indian Point.  The plant was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale; quakes higher than this are rare in the area.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), however, another problem festers at Indian Point: "The pools of spent fuel at Indian Point, which store significant volumes of radioactive material -- far more than inside the active nuclear reactors -- have no containment structure. However implausible it may be that this radioactive waste is exposed and unsecured, that is the case at Indian Point."  According to Riverkeeper, there are 1500 tons of radioactive waste stored onsite.

In 2001, Hillary Clinton said after visiting Indian Point that she favored expanding evacuation procedures to include a 50-mile radius around nuclear power plants, as opposed to the 10-mile radius then in place.

- The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Ocean County, New Jersey, is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States (1969), and will be closing in 9 years. The plant is located 75 miles south of New York City. Earthquakes are rare in the area, though a 3.9 quake did hit last December. The plant does not have seismic sensors. A spokesperson for New Jersey Geological Survey’s geology bureau told Lakewood 24/6, “statistically, New Jersey could be overdue" for a bigger earthquake.

- The Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania is located in Limerick Township, northwest of Philadelphia, about 90 miles southwest of New York City. According to the Daily Local News, U.S. government regulators will soon be inspecting the Limerick reactor, along with the Peach Bottom nuclear plant, also in Pennsylvania, to see if it is at risk from earthquakes. Two small earthquakes rumbled not far from the plants in 2009.

- The Shoreham Nuclear Plant on Long Island, roughly 50 miles from Brooklyn, was closed by protests in 1989 without generating any commercial electrical power.

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22a-rbZD.007 said...

What you term "Waste" is better called "reserve future fuel". It was an executive order from the less-than-competent Jimmy Carter that turned it miraculously into "waste".

Directly across the Hudson from Indian Point sits the old Lovett coal pile...sodded over with a cosmetic grass coating now, but containing more uranium & thorium than the reserve fuel and the current fuel at Indian Point combined.

Yet you ignore it.

It's all agenda semantics, trying to enlist followers in this or that campaign.

Tunnel-vision pseudo-science.

Anonymous said...

Does the Lovett coal pile have a cooling system necessary to avert meltdown?

That's not semantics.

mcbrooklyn said...

No agenda, Pete. Just a list of nuclear plants within 100 miles.
Regarding coal ash: According to Scientific American, "The question boils down to the accumulating impacts of daily incremental pollution from burning coal or the small risk but catastrophic consequences of even one nuclear meltdown." Sci American's interesting article comparing coal ash to nuclear waste is here:

Anonymous said...

I think the facts are self evident. The situation in Japan proves it all! Right now there is a run on the market for iodine pills at the west cost! Its time we start doing something about this!!