NRC Report: Flooding Is Major Threat To U.S. Nuclear Plants

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Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

Not exactly good news, but good to know if you live anywhere near a high-risk nuclear plant. It's not much of a surprise to learn that the NRC has been working to keep this information from the public:

An un-redacted version of a recently released Nuclear Regulatory Commission report highlights the threat that flooding poses to nuclear power plants located near large dams -- and suggests that the NRC has misled the public for years about the severity of the threat, according to engineers and nuclear safety advocates.

"The redacted information shows that the NRC is lying to the American public about the safety of U.S. reactors," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and safety advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists.A redacted version of the report was posted to the NRC website on March 6. An un-redacted version was recently obtained by the environmental group Greenpeace and shared with The Huffington Post.

Among other things, evidence in the report indicates that the NRC has known for at least the last six years, and perhaps much longer, that failure of a dam upriver from the Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina would cause floodwaters to overwhelm the plant’s three reactors and their cooling equipment -- not unlike what befell Japan's Fukushima Dai-chi facility after an earthquake and tsunami struck last year. Three reactors at Fukushima experienced a full meltdown, which contaminated surrounding farmland and exiled hundreds of thousands of residents.

According to the NRC's own calculations, which were also withheld in the version of the report released in March, the odds of the dam near the Oconee plant failing at some point over the next 22 years are far higher than were the odds of an earthquake-induced tsunami causing a meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

Advocates and engineers also contend that the NRC, by originally releasing only a heavily redacted version of the report, inappropriately invoked security concerns to mask embarrassing information. This includes the full extent of the flood risk at Oconee, which is covered at greatest length in the report, and the continued failure of regulators to require the facility's owner, Duke Energy, to swiftly improve the plant’s defenses.The NRC report identifies flood threats from upstream dams at nearly three dozen other nuclear facilities in the United States, including the Fort Calhoun Station in Nebraska, the Prairie Island facility in Minnesota and the Watts Bar plant in Tennessee, among others.

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