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26 Nuclear Power Plants In Hurricane Sandy's Path 392

Posted by samzenpus
from the perfect-storm dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Hurricane Sandy is about to ruin a bunch of people's Mondays. In New York City alone, the storm has already shut down public transportation, forced tens of thousands to relocate to higher ground and compelled even more office jockeys to work from home. (Okay, that last part might not be so bad, especially for the folks that don't actually have to work at all.) But if it knocks out power to any of the 26 nuclear power plants that lie directly in its path, the frankenstorm of the century will ruin Tuesday, too. Heck, a nuclear meltdown would be a much bigger problem."
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26 Nuclear Power Plants In Hurricane Sandy's Path

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:27PM (#41809139)

    I could call myself The Hurricane!

  • by na1led (1030470) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:29PM (#41809179)
    We never get any excitement here in Maine. Storms always seem to dodge us.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <(moc.loa) (ta) (hciretg)> on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:29PM (#41809181) Journal

    To publish an insanely sensationalistic FUD piece from the Anti-Nuclear crowd scaremongering the most densely populated area of the world over something that is a complete and utter non-issue.

    • by WilyCoder (736280) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:31PM (#41809205)

      Exactly. While people are dealing with the *real* effects of the storm right now, these people want to talk about nuclear meltdowns? Stupid ass hyperbole if you ask me...

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:38PM (#41809313)

        While people are dealing with the *real* effects of the storm right now, these people want to talk about nuclear meltdowns?

        Do you mean real effects like damaged windmills and solar panels ripped off roofs?

        On the other hand, the extra rainfall should be good for hydroelectric.

        • by suutar (1860506)
          maybe. If the water starts spinning the impeller beyond what the generator can handle, they'll get decoupled and the generator will sit idle.
      • Slight nitpick: people are going to be dealing with the effects of the storm. After several CCWTWNITN (cable channels with the word news in their name) doing 5 days of round the clock coverage on a storm scheduled to start causing damage...tomorrow...someone was bound to go nuclear. As a bonus I've found I much prefer sensationalist storm coverage to election coverage.
    • You hit the nail on the head! I live 30 miles from Indian Point, does not bother me one bit.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:48PM (#41809467)

        I live 12 miles, doesn't bother me one bit, nor did it when I lived 5 miles, nor worked 1 mile. Heck, in my 20's I used to water ski just offshore from the plant. Hmmm, maybe that's why my hair got curly? chuckle

        BTW, NONE of the evacuation plans take into account there being a bad storm while attempting an evacuation from a nuke plant...they just don't consider it likely.

        And, btw, the original call for an evacuation plan was for 50 miles...I was at that meeting, but we all agreed that it would be impossible to evacuate 50 miles, as it includes all of NYC. Then we cut it down to 25 miles, and it still included too much of NYC to be doable. Finally, we went down to 10 miles, which everyone felt was more realistic to evacuate. But the 10 mile evacuation zone isn't based on science, it's based on what is doable in the NY area. 10 miles wasn't enough at Fukishima.

    • by fa2k (881632)

      It almost worked on me. The first links made me thing power outage, meh, maybe some websites go down at worst. Now the last sensationalistic link I almost clicked, thinking "is that really a realistic problem?".

    • Here is your big chance. Why is it FUD?

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:52PM (#41809525)

      Heck, a nuclear meltdown would be a much bigger problem.

      By golly, it'll be even worser if it opens the hell-mouth.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:01PM (#41809661) Homepage Journal

      Oh please. I've read both stories, and neither of them is the least bit sensationalistic. They present issues and facts, and neither of them is clearly anti-nuke. But of course anybody who suggests that there are safety issues with nuclear power must be "scaremongering".

      What's weird to me is that people get all religious about nuclear power. At best, fission plants will never provide more than a fraction of the power we need. You may think that the benefit-versus-risk equation argues that we shoud build them (not that I agree) but is that really sufficient reason to treat nuclear power like the Second Coming?

    • Yeah! Team TEPCO is heard from!

    • Nuclear technology is dangerous. That is why Germany decided to abandon it. In German conservative news I see there is alarm in Oyster Creek (2 on 4 accident scale) [www.welt.de]. Don't forget that the worst may still follow when the downfall moves to the sea.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:30PM (#41809191) Journal

    If you want to be as safe from the hurricane as possible, you should then find shelter in one of those nuclear plants. They\re the best built structures by a very large margin.

    Only thing is, I don\t believe you'll be lucky enough to be let in.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Yeah, and if the external backup power goes out (like it did in Japan) you're looking at a potential meltdown situation. And guess what: that would generate enough heat to melt all that steel and concrete.

      • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday October 29, 2012 @04:58PM (#41811069)

        Then I guess I would be glad they were built several DECADES after the ones in Japan. I also guess I would be glad that the generators are located above the floodplain. Then, I would be glad that the spent fuel isn't stored with the reactor, but in another building. Lastly, I think I would be glad that after Fukishama, enough attention has probably been paid to the very, very, very unlikely event that they could probably get emergency generators air-lifted in by the US military in a big hurry, if they were required.

        • by dbIII (701233)

          Then I guess I would be glad they were built several DECADES after the ones in Japan

          Which plant is that one? Can you name it? I'm sure you can't, since it hasn't been built.
          Face it, nearly every single one of them is going to be older since the 1970s was when most were built.

  • These plants have NEVER been hit by a storm before! Whatever will we do??

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I propose synchronized panicking!

      Everyone go to www.nukewebcam.edu, pick one of the 26 plants, and as soon as you see precipitation, run out the front door screaming as you run along all the easily reached streets where you live.

  • Around here (Score:5, Informative)

    by camperdave (969942) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:31PM (#41809209) Journal
    Around here, the nuclear power plants are designed to survive a 747 flying into them. I'm sure a little bit of a breeze isn't going to be any trouble
    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > Around here, the nuclear power plants are designed to survive a 747 flying into them.

      Care to share a reference ? IIRC, the last I heard the *best* designs currently in use could only survive a direct hit from a light aircraft (sorry: no ref !).

      • by Whatanut (203397)

        The wikipedia page on containment buildings has this blurb.

        In 1988, Sandia National Laboratories conducted a test of slamming a jet fighter into a large concrete block at 481 miles per hour (775 km/h).[14][15] The airplane left only a 2.5-inch-deep (64 mm) gouge in the concrete. Although the block was not constructed like a containment building missile shield, it was not anchored, etc., the results were considered indicative. A subsequent study by EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, concluded that

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Ahh yes, but what if two or three 747s flew into them, at once? I'm sure just for posting this I'll have DHS all over my ass.

  • Unsubstatiated Claim (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jonah Hex (651948) <hexdotms @ g m a i l .com> on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:32PM (#41809225) Homepage Journal
    Human Error has caused more nuclear incidents than Weather. That said, I want one of those backyard mini nuclear plants. - HEX
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Then again, Canadian reactors are CANDU - and in True Canadian Style, they're a bit less efficient, but vastly more safe when it comes to the possibility of meltdown.

  • So when the storm has passed, if nothing happens, will the fear mongering anti-nuke folks admit that nuclear power is safe?

    *crickets*

  • Nuclear Technology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Seeteufel (1736784) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:38PM (#41809319) Homepage
    In Germany the Federal government massively moved away from nuclear technology because they feel it is unsafe and you don't know what to do with the waste. Vorsprung durch Technik - be first in the next wave of technology innovation. We now have 5MW wind generators serial production and it looks like only the network is an issue. Progress in solar technology is also amazing, Chinese companies took over the lead. When US nuclear power plants would be affected by the storm (just remember Fukushima) that would be very dangerous to the densely populated area. I really wonder how many levees they build. Remember the WTC towers were "designed" to survive a 747 flying into them.
    • by Chibi Merrow (226057) <mrmerrow@@@monkeyinfinity...net> on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:49PM (#41809481) Homepage Journal

      The WTC towers did survive an aircraft flying into them.

      What they didn't survive was the jet fuel fire after the crash knocked the insulation off the girders.

      This is stupid fear-mongering, plain and simple.

      Fukushima didn't fail until AFTER a catastrophic earthquake, AFTER a catastrophic tsunami, AFTER the reactor was run past its design lifetime, and AFTER the company in charge of it did not make the manufacturer's recommended safety upgrades. Do you have any evidence we're facing anything remotely similar to those circumstances with the 26 nuclear reactors in the storm's affected area?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course, you do realize that the real winner with the nuclear switch off in Germany was coal, right? You might have more windmills, but you probably would have even with the nuclear plants.

      Turning off nuclear based on a scare reaction to an accident puts Germany firmly in the luddite column, even with the movement on green sources. It's more like "OMG, nuclear is scary turn it off now!", and then suddenly realizing that people would eventually realize that the thing that everyone is not scared of is the

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      That reminds me, what's going to happen the next time to all those turbines and roof mounted panels then next time that Germany is hit with a really big storm?

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:43PM (#41809393) Journal

    It is a cat 1 storm. Yawn.

    • Ike was only a Cat 2 when it hit the Gulf Coast. When it comes to damage and cost, square mileage matters just as much as wind speed.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:43PM (#41809403)

    >> Heck, a nuclear meltdown would be a much bigger problem.

    Heck, a Godzilla attack would be a much bigger problem.

  • Give me a break (Score:4, Informative)

    by samantha (68231) * on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:45PM (#41809431) Homepage

    A) Sandy has average winds less that 80 mph so the major danger is heavy rainfall (or perhaps snow) only.
    B) "Nuclear meltdown" is largely a media myth. Real nuclear plants do not melt down in the way the popular mythology claims.
    C) Real nuclear plant are designed to push in the control rods if anything like a power drop happens.

    So stop with the 70s anti-nuclear FUD.

    • Re:Give me a break (Score:5, Informative)

      by captaindomon (870655) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:53PM (#41809533)
      You should probably do some research on Fukushima. The control rods did drop when the earthquake hit, as part of the emergency shutdown, the chain reaction did stop as designed, and there was enough residual heat from fission by-products that the entire fuel assembly melted anyway.
    • A) Sandy has average winds less that 80 mph so the major danger is heavy rainfall (or perhaps snow) only.

      Agreed.

      "The Frankenstorm of the Century"? Okay, I haven't been in a hurricane since the turn of the century, granted, but I just checked and the maximum sustained winds are 90 MPH. Hurricane Gloria [wikipedia.org] had wind speeds of 145 MPH and hit Long Island--I remember going out during the eye. Hurricane Andrew [wikipedia.org] had winds of 175 MPH and was very destructive.

      90 MPH? Pfft.

  • Interesting Fact (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:49PM (#41809473)

    The title is an interesting fact (previously unknown to me), but the article has no real point. It has a lot of fearful speech and reads like religious propaganda. If it were calling for increased preparedness, then that would be one thing. It doesn't do that, though -- it's just appears to sound scary by using scary bullet points.

    TL;DR: Crap article.

  • I am sure they will melt down just like the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant has done every time a tropical storm or hurricane has it it.... Oh wait... That has never happened.

  • And they're all rated for much more severe storms than Sandy. Not sure why the fearmongering article, which goes out of its way to imply that meltdown is imminent...

  • if it knocks out power to any of the 26 nuclear power plants
    I'm pretty sure the power plans have reliable sources of power, should they not be able to get any from the grid.

  • by MrLizard (95131) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:03PM (#41809691)
    Nuclear Wind! Atomic Tide! Nukestorm! Windpocalypse! Radioactivecane! Frozen Meltdown! Atomic Hailstorm! Nukenami! Any other ideas for the inevitable SyFy movie?
  • FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by confused one (671304) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:05PM (#41809719)
    I'm sorry... This is a bunch of FUD. These plants have all seen impact of large storms before. Other nuclear plants along the Atlantic coast have been impacted by larger storms than Sandy. Despite this, the U.S. Mid Atlantic coast is not a radioactive wasteland.
  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:21PM (#41809933)

    How many of those are in the direct path? And how many of them store their coal supplies outdoors?

    How much coal can be expected to be scattered across massive areas in the path?

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday October 29, 2012 @04:07PM (#41810483)

    Shut up. Panic. Run Amok. We need footage.
    Sincerely,
    The Media

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday October 29, 2012 @04:07PM (#41810493) Homepage

    And now for the reality check. The power grid for the northeastern US is run by PJM, from a control center in Valley Forge, PA (and a backup center elsewhere). Their public PJM Dashboard [pjm.com] shows what's going on in the generation system and high-voltage transmission grids. (Retail power distribution is handled by local power companies.)

    So what's going on? Just normal stuff. Load right now is 89 gigawatts, just 1% above forecast. No storm-related emergencies. A few routine problems - the 138KV line between Jay and DeSoto is out, and system voltage is running slightly high, so some switching actions were taken. No alerts from FERC or DHS. Spinning and standby reserves are above normal, in case of trouble. Some substations that normally run unattended have been staffed and sandbagged. About 3 gigawatts of extra power plant capacity are idling on standby, just in case, with another 6GW standing by to start. Wind power is looking good today. Right now, there's far more generation capacity available than load to use it, which is typical for mid-day in fall. (The peak is during the summer air-conditioning season.)

    PJM's public statement notes that some nuclear plants might shut down due to high winds, but they expect to have enough reserves to deal with that.

    Most trouble is on the distribution side, from trees falling on power lines in residential areas. Tornadoes can take out high tension towers, but the wind speeds for this hurricane aren't high enough to do much of that. This is mostly a coastal flooding problem.

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