Discovery That Indian Point Nuke Is Most Exposed To Quake Risk Prompts Reuters To Release An Evacuation Map
New data shows the Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City was the nation’s most vulnerable to an earthquake.That has stirred concerns about protecting the city’s eight million residents in the event of a disaster.The plant sits about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of New York City, inside a 50-mile radius that U.S. authorities have recommended be evacuated around the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
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 that the core could be damaged by an earthquake, exposing the public to radiation. No tsunami required. That’s 10 times more likely than you winning $10,000 by buying a ticket in the Powerball multistate lottery, where the chance is 1 in 723,145.And it turns out that the nuclear reactor in the United States with the highest risk of core damage from a quake 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.One in 10,000The 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.A ranking of the 104 nuclear reactors is shown at the bottom of this article, listing the NRC estimate of risk of catastrophic failure caused by earthquake.The chance of a core damage from a quake at Indian Point 3 is estimated at 1 in 10,000 each year. Under NRC guidelines, that’s right on the verge of requiring „immediate concern regarding adequate protection“ of the public. The two reactors at Indian Point generate up to one-third of the electricity for New York City. The second reactor, Indian Point 2, doesn’t rate as risky, with 1 chance in 30,303 each year.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.The odds take into consideration two main factors: the chance of a serious quake, and the strength of design of the plant.Nuclear power plants built in the areas usually thought of as earthquake zones, such as the California coastline, have a surprisingly low risk of damage from those earthquakes. Why? They built anticipating a major quake.Other plants in the East, South and Midwest, where the design standards may have been lower because the earthquake risk was thought to be minimal, now find themselves at the top of the NRC’s danger list.The chance of serious damage from a quake ranges from Indian Point’s 1 chance in 10,000 each year, a relatively higher risk, to the Callaway nuclear plant in Fulton, Mo., where the NRC set the lowest risk, 1 chance in 500,000 each year.The full list of top 10 riskiest NPPs in the US: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.