Tsunami threatens US nuclear power plants

By Phaedra Friend Troy

 The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is monitoring various nuclear power plants and facilities across the United States due to the threat of a tsunami.

The eastern coast of Japan was hit with one of the largest earthquakes on record Friday. Measuring an 8.9 on the Richter Scale, the earthquake caused subsequent massive tsunamis to break across Japan. The natural disaster has caused widespread damage and hundreds are feared dead.

Additionally, more than 20 other countries are now on tsunami alert due to the earthquake, including Russia, countries in South America, and the entire US West Coast.

Japan tsunamis earthquake nuclear power
The NRC is closely monitoring all nuclear facilities in the tsunami warning zone, including the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the Sand Onofre nuclear power plant, the Humboldt Bay spent fuel storage site and the NRC-regulated nuclear materials sites in Hawaii and Alaska.

All nuclear facilities are preparing for possible tsunami effects.

Notice of Unusual Event Declared

Located on the West Coast, the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo, California, has declared a notice of unusual event (NOUE) as it prepares for the threat of a tsunami.

The operator of the Diablo Canyon power plant Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) declared a NOUE at 4:23 a.m. EST after receiving the tsunami warning from the West California Emergency Management Agency.

“The NRC is closely monitoring this situation as it unfolds with respect to nuclear facilities within the United States,” said NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko. “NRC staff is working closely with its resident inspectors who are on site to ensure safe operations.”

According to the NRC, nuclear power plants are constructed to withstand environmental hazards, including earthquakes and tsunamis.

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