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Friday, March 11, 2011

FACTS: Cancelled US plants due to earthquake concern

-Siting criteria for US Nuclear plants are very strict, and include not only the location of population centers but also such things as geology.

-While many plant sites have been rejected by the AEC / NRC for having been too close to population centers, there have also been a number of sites considered and then rejected on seismic, or earthquake potential, concerns.

-The Federal Code covering Nuclear Plant Siting is 10CFR100. The section of 10CFR100 covering siting criteria for observation directs the full consideration of the site physically including "seismology, meteorology, geology and hydrology." {10CFR100.10(4)c}

-There have been some preliminary site investigations rejected on grounds of seismic concern but two major efforts by utility companies to build nuclear plants have been cancelled after serious design work.

BODEGA BAY ATOMIC PARK, Bodega Bay, California. This was to have been a General Electric BWR, rated 1000 MWt / 313 MWe built for Pacific Gas and Electric at Bodega Head, which is in Sonoma County and roughly 50 miles north of San Francisco. The project began in 1962. Serious protests surrounding this plant site initially were environmental but became seismically oriented, with the result that the AEC was forced to cancel consideration for the site (planned criticality for this project initially had been 1966) with the indication that it (the AEC) did not have proper and full information to guarantee that the site would NOT be problematic from the seismic aspect of consideration.

MALIBU STATION, Malibu Beach, California. This station (also called Corral Canyon in some documents) was to have been a Westinghouse PWR rated 1473 MWt / 462 MWe for the City of Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power. This project began officially with submission of information to the AEC in 1963, and startup of the plant was scheduled for 1967; a conditional permit was issued by the AEC in July 1966 for construction at the plant site. However, again, protest over a wide range of issues eventually included seismic concerns and again the AEC had to agree that it did not have good enough information from the seismic standpoint to guarantee safety of a plant at that site.

-Nuclear plants in the United States, then, are seriously considered seismically and if sites cannot be verified safe, for certain, seismically they are not approved for construction by the NRC (formerly the AEC.)

this article written by Will Davis for the Atomic Power Review Blog. Sources available upon request.

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