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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

For USA’s nuclear industry – could things get any worse?

Nuclear’s Annus Horribilis, AOL, Margaret Ryan, November 30, 2011 For the nuclear industry, 2011 was Biblical. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Tornadoes. Floods. Fires. 2011 had everything but plagues of locusts.

Since 2001, nuclear critics had been worried about airplanes smashing into plants or dirty bombs. This year nature reminded everyone it can still throw a haymaker, and the reverberations from 2011’s onslaught appear set to dominate US nuclear power in 2011

March 2011 brought the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off northeastern Japan that sparked a tsunami whose waves may have exceeded 45 feet. Tokyo Electric Power Company’s oldest nuclear station, Fukushima Daiichi, apparently survived the earthquake, but its four oldest reactors didn’t survive that wall of water. Nuclear experts are still figuring out what all went wrong, and tens of thousands still haven’t returned home as Japanese authorities try to decontaminate radioactive hot spots.

In April, massive tornadoes that devastated the southeast swept near the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry plant.

In June, droughts sparked wildfires across the Southwest, including one that threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where nuclear weapons materials are stored.

June also brought record floods across the upper Midwest. For weeks Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun nuclear plant was essentially an island.

August saw the 5.8 magnitude Virginia earthquake just 11 miles from Dominion Energy’s North Anna plant. The plant shut safely, and returned to service mid-November after extensive checks found no damage even though ground motion briefly exceeded the plant’s design.

Aging Generation Giants All these challenges resurrected questions about the robustness of America’s nuclear fleet as reactors begin to pass the 40-year mark. That was once considered the operating limit, but with safety backfits, regular material checks and planned component replacements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says reactors can operate for 60 years. More than half of the 104 reactors in the US have been licensed to do so…..

“most” people in the industry recognize the need to take 2011’s warnings seriously. “They don’t want to be the next Fukushima,”….. “No one wants to lose a billion dollar asset.”….

December 1, 2011 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

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