Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake Zones around the Globe

By Jerry James Stone
TreeHugger

Below are both global and US maps with nuclear reactor sites marked, along with an overlay of seismic activity. ~ Ed.

U.S. Nuclear Reactors

US Nuclear Power PlantsNuclear power reactors. Image via U.S. NRC

There are currently 104 operational nuclear power plants in the United States–35 boiling water reactors, 69 pressurized water reactors–providing 20% of the country’s electricity. The above map shows all nuclear power facilities across the country colored by years of operation.

US Nuclear ReactorsResearch and testing reactors. Image via U.S. NRC

In addition to those 104 nuclear power plants, there are 32 reactors used for research and testing at such places like laboratories and universities.

U.S. Seismic Activity

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seismic hazard map show the probability level for an earthquake across the U.S. based on ground shaking, faults, seismicity and geodesy. This information helps dictate everything from building codes, insurance rates and public policy.

seismic-hazard-map-us.jpgUSGS National Seismic Hazard Map. Image via USGS

U.S. Seismic Activity Near Nukes

Looking at the overlap of U.S. nuclear reactors (both power and research facilities) and earthquake zones is pretty alarming. The West Coast isn’t as peppered with nukes as the states east of the Mississippi are but they’re sitting atop some pretty shaky ground.

US Nuclear Power Plants Near Earthquake ZonesImage via Public Integrity

Oddly, just two weeks before Japan was shaken by a 9.0 magnitude quake, 10 California lawmakers warned the U.S. Department of Energy that the state’s two nuclear power plants are more susceptible to earthquakes than previously thought. Diablo Canyon was designed to withstand a 7.5-magnitude quake whereas San Onofre can only handle a 7.0. But in 2008, the USGS discovered that the Diablo (near San Luis Obispo) power plant was built less than a half mile from previously unknown earthquake fault and that San Diego’s San Onofre plant is highly susceptible to both earthquakes and tsunamis. California is at risk for both.

The Cascadian Subduction Zone off the coast of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and the northernmost part of California shook with a vigorous 9.0 on January 26, 1700. It produced a huge tsunami that its geological-mark on Humboldt County. It even reached Japan! But tsunamis from earthquakes around South America and the Aleutian-Alaskan region have posed a greater threat to the West Coast than locally generated tsunamis.

“For example, the 1946 Aleutian tsunami produced waves heights of 12 to 16 feet at California coastal areas including Half Moon Bay, Muir Beach, Arena Cove, and Santa Cruz. The 1960 Chilean tsunami produced wave heights of 12 feet at Crescent City, California. The 1964 Alaskan tsunami generated waves of more than 20 feet at Crescent City, California, where it caused $7.5 million in damage and 11 deaths. It also produced waves ranging from 10 to 16 feet along parts of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. In contrast, the 1906 San Francisco, CA, earthquake produced local tsunami waves of only about 2 inches. The largest known locally generated tsunami on the west coast was caused by the 1927 Point Arguello, California, earthquake that produced waves of about 7 feet in the nearby coastal area.”

But historical factors are only part of the equation. Japan’s 9.0 earthquake not only shifted their coastline, it even moved an Antarctic glacier causing the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to drain more quickly. And reports are showing that San Francisco will be 5-feet further into the bay by the century’s end, giving a 7-foot tsunami even more reach.

World Earthquake and Nuclear Reactor MapView the full-sized interactive map at maptd.

Read full post here.

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3 responses to “Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake Zones around the Globe

  1. Pingback: Blackwater Watch » Blog Archive » Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake Zones around the Globe | COTO Report

  2. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake Zones around the Globe | COTO Report

  3. Not only that, but originally, Diablo Canyon was built backwards – apparently one of the engineers was dyslexic and the plans were reversed, and then it was supposedly “fixed”. We’re all toast if the Empire(s) want us to be. Nuthin’ else to be said.

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