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Illinois Earthquake and Nuclear Plants

(4/18/2008) - This morning at 4:37 central time a 5.2 magnitude earthquake shook southeastern Illinois. Illinois is home to six nuclear plants operated by Exelon and are located in the central and northern parts of the state. Here is a statement from Exelon on the earthquake and its nuclear plants:
None of Exelon Nuclear's six Illinois nuclear energy stations were affected by early morning seismic activity near the southern Illinois town of West Salem, the company said today.

Plant equipment continued to function normally at each of the six operating nuclear stations. Station operators and technical experts conducted extensive pre-planned inspections when the seismic activity occurred.

Operators performed "walk-downs" to search for potential effects and confirmed by this morning that the earthquake caused no damage to equipment or otherwise affected plant operations. Additional plant walk- downs are scheduled throughout the day. Each plant continued to operate at its normal power level throughout the morning.

Nuclear energy plants are designed specifically to withstand the impact of earthquakes and other severe acts of nature. The quake, reported to be at a magnitude of 5.2 in the Richter Scale, did not challenge the engineered design of any of the six plants. The epicenter was near West Salem, Illinois, about 80 miles east of St. Louis. The closest Exelon Nuclear facility is in Clinton in DeWitt County, about 140 miles north of West Salem.

Comments

gunter said…
Too soon to tell if and how Illinois reactors might have been effected.

For example, its not possible to conduct walkdowns of buried pipes that carry radioactive water that could be leaking and contaminating ground water.

An earthquake on the New Madrid fault broke a buried pipe at Dresden a few years back. That pipe break and subsequent radioactive release of tritiated water went unreported by Exelon for some time as I recall.

I venture to say that it was that particular pipe break that actually unraveled the more extensive unreported leaks to groundwater that had occurred more than a decade earlier at Braidwood.
Anonymous said…
Gunter, how many lives were lost by these pipe breaks associated with nuke plants, and how many would be killed by an earthquake severing a natural gas pipe line. Ans + 0 lives lost for nukes, and untold 1000s for a natural gas pipeline rupture. Your policies of no-nukes would have us relying more and more on natural gas and any earthquake would have devasting impact on human life (not to mention the blast and fire damage to the environment). So I can only conclude that your organization - NIRS - places its support of natural gas big money ahead of human life.

By the way, exactly how much do natural gas suppliers give in donations to NIRS? How much, Gunter? Care to answer?

Be careful that you don't live next to a natural gas main when the next big one hits. But somehow, I expect your instinct for self-preservation would save you. After all, you are the prophet of anti-nuclearism and you must carry the messianic message onwards no matter what.
Anonymous said…
Gunter, you've got to be kidding, right? While you might not be able to "walkdown" underground pipes, there are any number of ways of inspecting and testing them. I have done it thousands of times in various venues. With today's available technologies, there is no doubt that any buried pipes can and will be inspected/tested.
gunter said…
Anon,

I didnt say it couldnt be done.

I said it was too early to tell since Exelon jumped way out ahead of its underground pipe inspections to say "Everything's OK."

Of all the utilities, Exelon lost the public trust, including the State of Illinois, by covering up groundwater contamination that migrated offsight from more than 23 blowdown pipe leaks at Braidwood and more at Dresden and Bryon.
Anonymous said…
Gunter: answer the question: how much money is donated to NIRS from natural gas supply interests? Why doesn't concern of natural gas pipeline explosions figure high on your safety agenda when it comes to earthquakes? Why do you bother with non-existent safety concerns at nuke plants? Why? Perhaps you ARE funded by natural gas suppliers. What trust should the public have in NIRS whose aims will only serve to benefit the fossil fuel industry?

You never answer the question of where you're financed from because we all know the answer: nuclear's competition - polluting fossil fuel.
Anonymous said…
Gunter, what were the public health consequences of those reputed leaks? If you're talking about tritium, do you have any idea how much tritiated water you'd have to injest to experience any kind of radiation-related health effects? What are the chances that a member of the public would consume such quantities?

I know any number of industries that deliberately (not a result of an accidental pipe break caused by natural phenomena) dump toxic materials into the environment, and no one, especially not NDIRS, whispers a word of protest. In my state alone whole mountains have been strip-mined for coal mining and left to erode away. There are abandoned steel mills rotting away leaching who-knows-what into the environment. There was a whole village bought out by the power company that operated a coal-burning plant nearby because of noxious emissions from, ironically, pollution control equipment that environmental whackos demanded to be installed to capture sulfur dioxide. The former residents of that village suffered real, verifiable, harmful health effects. Why aren't you out there protesting these or filing lawsuits and court actions? Those environmental impacts are orders of magnitude greater than any that might come of nuclear plant operations, yet you insist on hammering the nuclear industry for it's comparatively clean environmental record.
gunter said…
I understand why you remain anonymous.
Anonymous said…
Never mind the snide remarks. Answer the question. Why are you spending all this time hammering the nuclear industry with it's relatively benign environmental impact, instead of going after the real polluters, industries that are dirty, dirty, dirty? And no one, especially you, says anything about them.
Anonymous said…
BTW, Gunter, you keep your cash donations from big natural gas anonymous, but insist on nuclear industry transparency.

Oh, why isn't your name listed on the NIRS web site as staff any longer? Did you and Marriotte have a falling out over who would be top dog?
Lisa Stiles said…
Anon,

You must have missed the spontaneous fissioning of NIRS at which Beyond Nuclear was born. If you look at the BN page at http://www.beyondnuclear.org/contact.html and the NIRS page at http://www.nirs.org/columnist/columnisthome.htm you'll see it is the same cast of characters in a different order. Also, they both have the same exact address as the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.

Lisa

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