June 29, 2013

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Earthquake Safety

“After the serious amount of damage caused to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan opened the world’s eyes to the serious threat that nuclear power can have on our safety, professionals in the United States have turned their attention towards the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California.


Located near the beautiful town of San Luis Obispo, the plant was built over forty years ago by PG&E. Two fault lines, the Hosgri and Shoreline, sit dangerously close to the aged plant, creating a potentially serious issue in the event of a quake. Referred to as a “”Hot potato issue”" by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Sam Johnson, U.S. Seismologists and government officials are beginning to speculate whether the two fault lines could cause an earthquake strong enough to harm the plant and endanger nearby residents and college students.

PG&E’s previous assessment of the fault lines claims that the length of the faults is too short to cause any serious damage, but various officials have begun releasing calculations that could put the faults at over double the length they were previously recorded. Thought to only reach a length of 105 miles, the new scenario presented at the USGS headquarters in Menlo Park by Sam Johnson claims that the Hosgri fault might stretch over 250 miles all the way to Bolinas, a town just north of San Francisco.

If these calculations were to be correct, the fault lines would have the potential to generate an 8.0 earthquake, a force far too powerful for the power plant to hope to withstand. Information is being derived California Seafloor Mapping Program, but Johnson was sure to clarify that the faults have not been officially noted to run that far but the USGS.

PG&E has noted that the plant was designed and tested with quake safety in mind, but the four decades of time between it’s construction and present day leaves many to wonder just how secure the plant really is. The Shoreline fault was recently discovered in 2008, and PG&E released a 500-page report that predicted a length of only 15 miles long and a potential of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Some predictions have been established that both faults might be able to work in unison to create an earthquake that was too powerful for the plant to withstand, but PG&E denied the possibility of the Hosgri fault working together with the newly discovered Shoreline fault that lays only a few hundred feet from the power plant itself.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Mothers Against The Diablo Canyon Reactor

Diablo Canyon Power Plant

Fukushima, Japan, At Diablo Canyon

Japan’s Woes Shine Light On U.S. Nuke Plants Near Fault Lines

San Andreas Earthquakes Cause Colorado River Flooding

“The San Andreas Fault in Southern California is reportedly overdue for a major earthquake. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography believe they may know why. According to researchers, in addition to ending flooding, damming projects along the Colorado River may have altered seismic activity in the area. Prior to the damming projects, weight from the floodwaters put pressure on faults in the region, helping to trigger earthquakes.


San Andreas Earthquakes Cause Colorado River Flooding

Although researchers are able to correlate past flooding with major earthquakes in the region as far back as the 10th century, they cannot pinpoint whether the lack of flooding is delaying the area’s next major earthquake.”

More information:

Miami Herald

Wikipedia Article on the San Andreas Fault

Another Eartquake in Japan, Tsunami Warning

“On Sunday, July 10, 2011, Reuters reports that Japan experienced another aftershock from the deadly March 11th earthquake. The earthquake occurred six miles off of the country’s northeast coast. In response, the Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami alert for a half-meter tsunami. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the earthquake’s magnitude at 7.0.


Another Eartquake in Japan, Tsunami Warning

Although there were no initial reports of injuries or damage in the region, Tokyo Electric Power evacuated all of its workers at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to higher ground.

Relatedly, the Mainichi Daily News reported that a water purification system at the damaged nuclear plant has operated successfully for a week. The system is necessary to cool the plant’s reactors and to remove radioactive water. However, because the system was installed only two months, some officials are worried that it may be vulnerable to damage from aftershocks.”

For more information, click here:

Reuters Article About The Earthquake

Mainichi Daily News Article on the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Repairs

USGS To Test Fayetteville Water

“Today’s THV, in Little Rock, Arkansas, reported July 7 about the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) tests in Van Buren County to determine if gas drilling in the area is having any effect on the area’s drinking water.

USGS To Test Fayetteville Water

The area is part of the Fayetteville Shale territory where natural gas is extracted by a technique called hydraulic fracturing. Commonly called “”fracking,”" hydraulic fracturing involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into shale rock formations at high pressure to release the gases. Although the technique has been around for over 60 years, recent advancements in drilling technology has made fracking more profitable and common.

The concern from environmentalists, as well as some residents near fracking operations, is that the chemicals used in the process could seep into their drinking water. Tom Kimmons, a resident of Shirley, in Van Buren County, said that after fracking operations began around his home his water became cloudy and he is now afraid to drink it.

The USGS tests being conducted this week in Van Buren County is a first for a local USGS office. The tests will check for the presence of chlorides, a chemical in frack fluid, found in high concentrations when the fluid comes back to the surface.

The USGS is conducting these tests first in Van Buren County, with plans to test in Faulkner County by August. The agency said they may possibly hit Conway County after that.

The tests in Arkansas are being watched by other areas of the country were fracking operations are common. USGS offices in Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York are closely monitoring how the tests are conducted in an effort to learn how to implement them in their areas.

Testing in each county is expected to take two or three weeks, with the samples sent off to the University of Arkansas and Duke University. Results are expected in one or two months.”

Hydraulic fracturing – Wikipedia

Union Drilling Signs Multi-Year Contracts For Two New Rigs

Shale gas in the United States – Wikipedia

Shale Goes Global – Slate Magazine

USGS Study on Arctic Drilling Safety

The L.A. Times recently reported on the scientific uncertainties surrounding oil exploration off the shorelines of Alaska, spotlighting a 292-page report released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGA) at the end of June.

USGS Study on Arctic Drilling Safety

The USGA’s report highlights the uncertainties of recent climate change, the impact on the area’s ecosystem and the long-term impact of Arctic development in the area. The report did not include many answers, according to the Times, but was seen as a way to jump-start the conversation with the parties involved in Arctic drilling. The oil industry released its own report in 2010, with Shell Alaska providing an assessment based on their own experiences in the area. In March of 2011, environmental groups released their own report, questioning the gaps in knowledge about Arctic drilling.|

Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant

Is there flooding at a Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant? After the nuclear disaster in Japan, many people are quite leery when it comes to nuclear power plants. They have a fear that something similar can easily occur anywhere else. Because of this, people around the world are more aware of events that are going on around nuclear power plants and are just very sensitive to the smallest thing that just does not seem right. This holds especially true with the two nuclear power plants that are located close to the overflowing Missouri River. Although on a slightly smaller scale, these two power plants are facing issues that sound eerily too similar to what happened with the flooded out Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant

The Fort Calhoun Station, which is located just North of Omaha, was built in a location that makes it surrounded by the Missouri River. This plant was actually closed down in April for refueling, but has remained closed because part of its grounds are under two feet or water. Victor Dricks who is the spokesman for the NRC Region IV office state that there is nothing to worry about since they have taken all the necessary precautions. They have created a berm around the important facilities and have also made sure to have an additional diesel generator, water pumps, sand bags, and firefighting equipment. However, even with this, there was an incident that was reported on June 7th that got rumors flooding the internet and left everyone on edge. The Omaha Public Power District does admit that there was a fire at the plant that day and that it caused a 90 minute power interruption that allowed the spent-fuel’s pool temperature to increase by a few degrees but that nothing threatening actually happened.

The other power plant that is under scrutiny by the public now is the Cooper Nuclear Station that is also located close to the Missouri River and may be closing down due to the overflowing river. Red flags were raised when an unusual event was reported the past Sunday, but in actuality everything is under control.

Experts all agree that both plants are in no danger of having any type of nuclear catastrophe. They feel that the plants had plenty of time to prepare for the floods and are doing everything necessary to prevent any issues that may occur.”

For more information, visit these links:

Columbus Telegram

Wikipedia entry for Fort Calhoun Station

Omaha Public Power District Flood Rumor Control Page

Nuclear Regulatory Commission