How EMP could Impact a Nuclear Power Plant–
If there is a silver lining attached to the Fukushima nuclear power plant debacle, it has to be that in its aftermath, the nuclear industry has had to take a hard-second look at safety margins built into engineer specs for protecting public health and safety in the event of accidents.
Since Fukushima, a petition forwarded by Thomas Popik on behalf of the Foundation for Resilient Societies has requested that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) amend its regulations to require facilities licensed by the NRC to assure long-term cooling and unattended water makeup of spent fuel pools (SFP).
If you live in a district that has a nuclear power plant installation, ask your congressman to support docket PRM-50-96 (the NRC designation for the petition) and help nudge the NRC to act on the recommendations in this petition.
NRC Evaluates Consequences of a Severe Electromagnetic Solar Storm.
Oh! That really hasn’t (officially) happened yet but we can maybe move things along…
A reader (over @survivalblog) recently asked about the likelihood of a nuclear power plant meltdown if the bulk power grid should ever be blacked-out in an EMP scenario. Actually the concern is for the 100 + nuclear power plants (NPP) in the U.S.
The industry expert who responded to the question has been involved with the commercial nuclear power industry for over 30 years. His answer provides an excellent overview of the current safety status of the nuclear industry. Conveniently, the article he wrote and posted on the survivalblog web site is fairly easy to read and understand for the average person. I’m giving my readers here a very brief outline of that article in this post. I’ve downloaded the lengthier article here.
Part of that reply states that the NRC has researched the recent events surrounding the Fukushima disaster, which many of you know involved a Japanese nuclear plant(s) that experienced a partial core meltdown/explosion after a tsunami caused an emergency shutdown of the power supplies used to circulate cooling water to the reactor core(s) and the spent fuel rod –pools.
This occurrence, referred to as “a beyond design basis event” by the author, meaning that the collapse of back-up power exceeded even the already formidable onsite safety systems already in place — has prompted the NRC and the industry to consider adding extra safety precautions into the existing systems here in the U.S.
This is not to say that the industry has fully adopted an EMP (man-made or solar storm) Planning Scenario into its calculations. What they have done is to standardize all power generating stations with electrical hook-ups so portable, stand-by generators can effectively be transported on a “plug and play” basis to provide emergency auxiliary power to any local/regional NPP struck by disaster.
This is an upgraded safety measure since the Fukushima event. It addresses local or regional disaster relief for a limited number of faltering NPP’s by assuring those extra generators can arrive in a timely manner. However, current contingencies do not allow, nor does the Agency apparently confront the fact:
…that it might be possible for ALL of the nuclear plants to be impacted at the same time. A national or continent-wide EMP event could cripple or disable all of the nuclear plants in the USA at the same time. There are not enough pumps, generators, and other equipment to assist ALL of the nuclear plants at the same time”. (1.)
Hmmm. The good news is the industry has continued with some other mitigating techniques that could be very helpful if there ever should be a full scale EMP induced grid collapse. The biggest concern has always been that the cooling water could boil off and allow the spent fuel rod pools to empty and allow the zirconium rods to catch fire (and then expel radioactive smoke and gasses). Now it appears that engineered improvements permit access to onsite supplies of readily available diesel fuel and water, enabling these pools to “be refilled as needed and prevented from running dry for six months or possibly more”.
Oh. This capability is still in the planning stage. Hey! We can be thankful that the NRC position deems it …”appropriate for the NRC to consider regulatory actions that could be needed…” in a humongous solar storm. Without Fukushima and the submitted petition docketed as PRM-50-96, the nuclear industry still might be clueless about EMP.
You can ask your congressman to support docket PRM-50-96 and help nudge the NRC to act on the recommendations in this petition.
(1.) quote from article: http://survivalblog.com/what-can-we-expect-and-do-now-to-prevent-a-nuclear-power-plant-meltdown-in-an-emp-scenario-by-b-z/