Feds Order More Earthquake Analysis for Nuke Plants – Including Hanford
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced new earthquake study risks for a number of U.S. plants, including the Columbia Generating Station at Hanford.
In the time following the Japanese quake and subsequent tsunami at Fukishima, the feds claim two U.S. plants pose the greatest risk design-wise when strong shaking of the earth is evaluated against their designs.
The other plant is the Diablo Canyon reactors in California, near San Louis Obispo. However, while California has a significant earthquake zone with the San Andreas fault, the Mid-Columbia region is considered far more stable.
The NRC is requiring the investigations be completed by 2017. The NRC says based upon the designs of the two plants, if they were subjected to "strong" earthquake activity, the plants would be at a high risk. However, the NRC did NOT stipulate what level on the Richter Scale they consider to be strong.
Last year, Newstalk 870 and other outlets studied earthquake activity in the Columbia Basin, and while there have been some occasional tremors felt in the past, the region is not generally considered an active or dangerous quake zone.
According to information from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, the bulk of our "regular" or significant quake activity is centered on the West side of the state. This does NOT mean we don't have them here or in Oregon.
But the level and frequency of them is generally not considered comparable to the opinions put forth by the NRC. In other words, the chances of a quake strong enough to significantly weaken or damage the Columbia Generating Station is considered remote.