U.S. Nuclear Plants Are On Geologic Fault Lines
The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California is on a fault line. And so are many others.
Across the country, a spider’s web of faults in the Earth’s crust raises questions about earthquakes and safety at aging nuclear plants, amplified by horrific images from Japan, where nuclear reactors were crippled by a tsunami caused by a 9-magnitude quake.
The Indian Point Energy Center, for example, lies near a fault line 35 miles north of Manhattan; on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a safety review at the plant.
But none of the questions are more pressing than in quake-prone California, where about 10 powerful shakers – stronger than magnitude 7 – have hit since 1900.
A second crack three miles offshore from Diablo Canyon, the Shoreline Fault, could be an additional hazard, compounded by its proximity to the first fault line mentioned above.
The dangers of earthquakes have been raised repeatedly by opponents of nuclear energy. The Perry nuclear plant, east of Cleveland, lies within 40 miles of two faults; in 1986, a year before the plant opened, a 5.0 earthquake shook the area, but didn’t damage the plant, said Todd Schneider, a FirstEnergy spokesman. There have since been less severe quakes.
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