• Nuclear Power Plants have been retrofitted to cope with hurricanes and other natural disasters

    Guest Author: John Cooper

    Cooper is a cooling-tower thermal and hydraulic design engineer, with experience designing nuclear plant Ultimate Heat Sink cooling towers, used to cool reactors during shutdown.

    [Editor’s note: ZipDialog is delighted to include this post. The opinions are those of the guest author. Readers are invited to respond, both here and on social media. At ZipDialog, we take dialog seriously.]

     Coping with Disasters such as Hurricanes is a Standard Design Feature for Nuclear Power Plants

    Ultimate Heat Sink (UHS) tower designs–the kind I often work with–include heavy duty-steel missile grating that protects the cooling system from damage that could be caused by projectiles from tornadoes.

    That hardening is a standard feature, one that has been upgraded significantly in recent years.

    Since Fukushima, all nuclear plants in the US have been retrofitted with equipment and water storage reservoirs that ensure adequate cooling water and power in the event of a natural disaster.

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    Texas Reactor Worked Well during Hurricane Harvey

    The nuclear power plant in southern Texas (South Texas Project) continued to operate when Harvey went over the site.

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    US Nuclear Regulation Commission is Prepared for Florida

     The NRC made clear it is prepared for the Hurricane Irma

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dispatched additional inspectors to the Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami and the St. Lucie nuclear plant on the east coast of Florida in advance of Hurricane Irma. The NRC expects to activate its regional incident response center in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday as the agency prepares for the effects of the hurricane on those nuclear plants and other NRC-licensed facilities near the path of the storm. –official statement (link here)

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    Lessons from Earlier Hurricanes

     In 1992, a category 5 hurricane passed directly over a Florida nuclear plant without a disaster.

    Ars Technica reports that the Turkey Point plant near Miami

    didn’t become a major environmental disaster [during Hurricane Andrew in 1992] due to redundancy built in the reactor system that continuously provided electricity to cool the reactors in the aftermath of the storm.

    That redundancy was hardened in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and then again in 2011 after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

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    The opinions in this post are those of the guest author. He and ZipDialog welcome your response.

    John Cooper is an expert on cooling tower systems for nuclear power plants and a Florida resident.