WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. nuclear power
reactors facing the highest risks of a meltdown from earthquakes
are not in tremor-prone California, but states including South
Carolina and Missouri, an analysis of government data published
on Thursday said.
The chances of an earthquake leading to meltdowns are small,
but the results would be grave. A tsunami generated by a 2011
earthquake led to the meltdowns of three reactors at the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan, causing
radiation releases and mass evacuations.
The U.S. reactor facing the highest risk is Duke Energy
Corp's H.B. Robinson near Hartsville, South Carolina,
according to the analysis https://blog.ucsusa.org/edwin-lyman/earthquakes-and-h-b-robinson-plant
by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Robinson faces a one in 7,700 chance annually that a quake
would cause a meltdown, said the analysis, based on Duke's
estimates submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC). That risk is five times higher than for each of PG&E
Corp's two Diablo Canyon reactors, the only ones left in
California. Those reactors are scheduled to be shut in 2024 and
The three reactors at a Duke plant called Oconee in Seneca,
South Carolina, face a one in 17,500 chance of a meltdown
annually, according to the analysis.
All Duke nuclear plants are in compliance with NRC
requirements for earthquakes, and the company has bolstered
structures, systems and components, said Mary Kathryn Green, a
Ameren Corp's Callaway reactor in Fulton, Missouri
faces a one in 13,800 chance of a meltdown annually, the
analysis said. Barry Cox, the site vice president at Callaway,
said the plant invests millions of dollars on protections
against earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety at the
Union of Concerned Scientists, who wrote the analysis, said that
the NRC should not approve license renewals for Duke's reactors
unless the company does more to guard against risks.
The NRC is satisfied that Duke has made "binding
commitments" to install permanent fixes at Robinson and seismic
risk insights could be useful in future license renewal
reviews, said spokesman Scott Burnell.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Jonathan Oatis)