Top Ten Nuclear Nations' Quake Hazard

Pictures: Top Ten Nuclear Nations' Quake Hazard


The bulbous chambers of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California


1. United States: Coastal Concern



This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

Annual U.S. nuclear generation: 798.7 billion kwh (kilowatt-hours)

Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi crisis has raised questions around the world on the earthquake hazard in countries that rely heavily on nuclear power. As it turns out, the seismic threat varies widely in the top ten countries generating electricity by fission.

Although the United States has not built a new nuclear power station since the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, it is far and away the world’s largest nuclear power producer. Its 104 reactors produce more electricity than all the nuclear plants in the next two nations—France and Japan—combined. But because U.S. electricity use is so prodigious, all those nuclear plants provide only 20 percent of the total.

Given the map of U.S. earthquake hazard, it’s no surprise that California’s two nuclear power plants are the ones that have raised the most political concern in the wake of Japan’s crisis. San Onofre, in San Clemente, and Diablo Canyon, in Avila Beach, are located right on the coast, near active faults.

Earthquake hazard in this area of the West, where the North American tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate, is about five times greater than the earthquake hazard in the eastern half of the United States, says seismologist Seth Stein, of Northwestern University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He is author of the recent book, Disaster Deferred, on how new science is changing views of earthquake hazards in the Midwestern United States. As the book explains, there is some seismic hazard in the central and eastern part of the country, where the vast majority of U.S. nuclear reactors are located. Damaging earthquakes have occurred near Charleston, South Carolina; Boston, Massachusetts; and New Madrid, Missouri.

Long before the Fukushima crisis, U.S. energy and nuclear regulators and the Electric Power Research Institute—the industry nonprofit group—were working on a new seismic source characterization for the central and eastern United States. It’s expected to be completed later this year.

There are no nuclear plants in Alaska, the U.S. state that has the most earthquakes.

—Marianne Lavelle and Barbara Mulligan


2. France: Heavy Reliance on Nuclear



Annual French nuclear generation: 389.3 billion kwh

The wind turbine above the cooling towers at France’s Cruas nuclear plant in the Rhône River valley near Montélimar is only one of the structures that makes the site unique. The power plant, built in the early 1980s, is one of only two nuclear power plants in the world built with “seismic base isolation,” flexible devices at the base that absorb vibration. Each reactor sits on more than 1,800 neoprene pads, each several inches thick. (The other such plant is near Cape Town, South Africa.)

Even though the total amount of energy France generates from atomic stations is less than half the amount generated in the United States, no other country relies as heavily on nuclear power. More than 80 percent of France’s electricity comes from 58 reactors in 19 power plants.

Earthquake hazard in France is not large, says Stein. Most of the country has little, and even the most active region has hazard comparable only to that of the eastern and central United States.

Although the Cruas plant has special earthquake protection, it is not in the most seismically active area of France. That would be along the Rhine River valley along the German border, says Stein. The fault system that runs down that valley produces some earthquake hazard in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, he says. Among the nuclear plants closer to that region is Fessenheim station on the Rhine, the oldest nuclear power plant in France.

A global picture of seismic hazard can be seen on the map developed by the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program, which Stein says was an effort undertaken a decade ago to harmonize differing nations’ ways of measuring earthquake hazard and show a worldwide picture of what is known.


3. Japan: From Hazard to Crisis

Japan's annual nuclear generation: 265.8 billion kwh

Although it is now scene of one of the world's worst nuclear crises, the Fukushima Daiichi plant, seen here in October 2008, once was part of a fleet that exemplified the promise of fission for an energy-hungry nation.

(Related Pictures: A Rare Look Inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant)

(Related Story: "Japan Tries to Avert Nuclear Disaster")

Despite its experience as the only country to endure a wartime nuclear attack, Japan two decades later turned to the so-called “peaceful atom” to help power its economic growth. With little in the way of domestic fossil fuel sources, and forced to import virtually all of its oil, coal, and natural gas, the island nation came to view nuclear power was a way to produce large amounts of electricity domestically. And since its first commercial nuclear power plant began operation in 1966, Japan has built up a program of 54 reactors, including the largest one in the world: Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in the Niigata prefecture on the west coast.

Nuclear energy has been providing one-third of Japan's power, and before the Fukushima accident, the nation had plans to expand that share to 40 percent by 2017 and to 50 percent by 2030.

As a network of islands on the boundaries of four major tectonic plates, Japan is among the world's most earthquake-prone nations. And, significantly, Japan has a population of 126.5 million in this zone of seismic hazard. (Stein notes that Alaska has a similar level of seismic hazard, but fewer than 700,000 people live there.)

All of the nation's nuclear power plants, of course, are within the danger zone.

Nuclear industry representatives and opponents of nuclear power are quick to point out that it was the failure of diesel backup power generators in the wake of the tsunami, not the shaking produced by the earthquake, that directly triggered the Fukushima crisis. Industry officials have pointed out that the plants survived the shaking from one of the largest earthquakes on record, thus performing as designed.

Others are less sanguine, noting that power outages are an even more common hazard in times of natural disaster and even less dramatic events. In the United States, for example, "while many of our power plants won't be subject to the one-two punch of a hurricane and tsunami, we are more vulnerable for the situation where we lose power and backup, whether it's because of a hurricane in the Gulf, an ice storm in the Northeast or a tree in Cleveland," said David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' nuclear safety program.


4. Russia: Aspirations for Nuclear


Russia's annual nuclear generation: 154.9 billion kwh

Cucumber plants thrive in a greenhouse in Siberia, thanks to the heat output of Russia's most remote nuclear power plant, Bilibino, located about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle in Chukotskiy autonomous region.

Russia has had aims to expand its nuclear power for reasons quite opposite that of Japan. The sprawling nation has huge fossil resources, including the largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, but Moscow would like to increase its exports of those. Shifting more Russians to nuclear power and away from natural gas, which is heavily subsidized by the state, would allow Russia to generate more revenue by selling the gas abroad.

So Russia, which now derives 16 percent of its electricity from 32 nuclear reactors at 10 locations, has plans to expand that share to 25 percent by 2030. Except for Bilibino's four small reactors in the far east, all of Russia's nuclear power plants are west of the Ural Mountains. They are closer, in other words, to Russia's population center, which also happens to be an area of low earthquake hazard.

But there is one nuclear power plant now under construction that is scheduled to be opened in Russia's most seismic region, the Kamchatka peninsula northeast of Japan. Russia's aim is for the facility, the Akademik Lomonosov, to be the world's first civilian floating nuclear power station. Expected to be completed by 2013, it would be moored at the closed city of Vilyuchinsk (named after a nearby volcano), which is a base for Russia's Pacific nuclear-powered submarine fleet. But Russia's purpose in building what it hopes will be several floating nuclear stations is not to keep them in dock but to have them travel to remote parts of the Arctic to power planned oil and gas extraction operations.


5. South Korea: Fast-Building Latecomer

Photograph by Lee Jin-man, AP

Annual Nuclear Generation: 140.4 billion kwh

A worker measures the radioactivity of drums containing waste at Yonggwang nuclear power site south of Seoul, one of Korea's young fleet of nuclear generating stations.

South Korea was a relative latecomer to nuclear power—starting up its program only one year before the Three Mile Island accident. But since its first plant was completed in 1978, it has built 21 reactors at four power stations that provide more than one-third of the nation's electricity. Twelve more reactors are planned by 2022. One of the world's fastest-growing developed countries, Korea's goal is to generate half its power from nuclear energy.

Like Japan, South Korea has virtually no fossil fuel resources, so nuclear power has enabled the nation to produce large amounts of electricity domestically. But even though the Korean peninsula is just northwest of the southern tip of Japan, South Korea's earthquake hazard is considered low, says Stein.


6. Germany: A Controversial 'Bridge'



Germany's annual nuclear generation: 128.2 billion kwh

Unterweser nuclear power facility, near Kleinensiel (map) which opened in 1978, is one of seven older plants that the German government ordered closed for at least three months for safety checks in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis.

(Related blog: "Eyeing Japan, Countries Reassess Nuclear Plans")

Although Germany's 17 nuclear power plants provide about a quarter of the nation's energy supply, their future has long been clouded with controversy.

Germany's Green Party and Social Democrats made a deal a decade ago to phase out nuclear energy entirely by 2022. But Chancellor Angela Merkel reversed that decision last fall. Invoking the need for nuclear as a “bridge technology” to take Germany to a renewable energy future, her government said it would aim to prolong the life of the power plants--a decision that was met with protest. Now, Japan's nuclear crisis has prompted Germany once more to rethink its nuclear future.

According to Stein, Germany's most seismic area is along the Rhine River valley. Several of Germany's stations are located near the Rhine, including its oldest operating nuclear facility, the Biblis station, now among those now shut down.


7. Canada: Nuclear Pioneer in the North

Canada's annual nuclear generation: 85.9 billion kwh

The huge turbine hall in the Bruce Power LP station on Lake Huron in Tiverton conveys the size of Canada's commitment to the atom; the facility boasts the largest output of any nuclear plant in North America.

Canada began its nuclear program as early as 1944 and built its first experimental  reactor in 1947. Overall, the nation derives about 15 percent of its electricity from 18 commercial reactors. But dependence on nuclear is far greater in Canada's most populous province. Ontario, home to the capital of Ottawa, has 16 of the existing reactors (including Bruce Power), and derives 53 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. The other two nuclear units are also in the east, in Quebec and New Brunswick.

The area known for the greatest seismic activity in Canada is in the far western portion of the country—the coast of British Columbia. And even though Canada has been planning to build as many as nine new reactors over the next 10 years, it is not likely that this region would be eyed as a potential site. British Columbia has a detailed clean energy plan that includes as one of its tenets no nuclear power.

But the east coast is not immune from seismic hazard. Stein notes that the only Canadian deaths ever associated with an earthquake were 28 casualties after a tsunami struck the Burin Peninsula, following the 7.2 earthquake on November 18, 1929, with an epicenter about 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Newfoundland. The only nuclear power station in Atlantic Canada is the Point Lepreau station on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.

Some earthquake hazard also exists in the Saint Lawrence River valley. This is the site of Hydro Quebec's Gentilly plant, on the river's south shore in Bécancour, which has been the focus of political tension since the crisis began in Japan. Hydro Quebec had planned a $2 billion upgrade to extend the life of the single remaining operating reactor, but opponents are demanding the government-owned power corporation also price out the cost of mothballing the facility.


8. Ukraine: Legacy of Disaster

Ukraine Map


Ukraine's annual nuclear generation: 78.8 billion kwh

The past and future of nuclear power can be seen together in Ukraine. At Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Plant, two units are operating and two more are slated to be built by Russia's atomic energy company, Rosatom.

But Ukraine will always be known for its first power plant, begun in 1970 and commissioned in 1977, at Chernobyl, site of the worst nuclear accident in history. The 1986 reactor explosion killed some 30 people, caused a fire to burn for 10 days and left tens of thousands of square miles contaminated.

(Related: "How Is Japan's Nuclear Disaster Different?")

Twenty-five years later, nuclear power remains important here, with about half of the Ukraine's electricity generated by 15 nuclear reactors at four locations. The construction of two large new reactors at Khmelnitsky is aimed at maintaining nuclear share's in electricity production to 2030, as the nation's overall power demand increases.

Seismic hazard is considered low in most of the Ukraine, according to Stein. The area that some geologists have identified as an area of earthquake hazard is the Carpathian Mountains near Romanian border. None of the nuclear stations are located there.


9. China:Ambitious Nuclear Plans

Annual nuclear generation: 66.6 billion kwh

This 180-ton rotor, shown here last year just after fabrication at a steam turbine plant in China's Sichuan province, soon was spinning inside China's first 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant. Unit 3 at the Ling'ao nuclear plant on the Dapeng peninsula in Guangdong, which opened last July, is still the largest reactor in China but it won't be alone for long. More than 27 new nuclear plants are now under construction in China, most of them this size or larger.

China already has 13 operating nuclear power plants, but together they provide only one percent of electricity to the world's most populous nation, which remains heavily dependent on coal. The Chinese government was aiming to increase nuclear's share in power generation sharply. Many of the planned plants are being built in the nation's rapidly developing eastern coastal areas, which have limited access to other power sources. Four of those planned reactors would be the first in the world with so-called Generation III-plus technology, with “passive safety” systems designed to continue cooling operation for 72 hours in the case of a power outage.

(Related: “Would a New Nuclear Plant Fare Better than Fukushima?”)
China is a country with large seismic hazards, says Stein, because the plate beneath India is pushing northward—a geological force that created the Himalayas and causes large earthquakes in a broad area spanning Pakistan, India, and Nepal, and continuing into Tibet and China. “Think of India like a fist going into the soft clay of Asia,” says Stein, who notes that some of the most destructive earthquakes in world history have occurred in China. Large quakes in recent years struck the Sichuan and Qinghai provinces in the interior and west, far from the nuclear developments on the east coast.


10. United Kingdom: A Nuclear Legacy

The United Kingdom's annual nuclear generation: 65.7 billion kwh

The Heysham nuclear power station on Morecambe Bay in northwestern England, with four reactors that opened in the 1980s, is one of eight locations the British government has identified as potential sites for new nuclear developments.

United Kingdom currently derives about 18 percent of its electricity from 19 nuclear power reactors in nine locations. The nation built so many nuclear stations in the 1950s and 1960s that it actually has more shut-down reactors—26—than operational ones. The United Kingdom has the only units still operating in the world that are considered early, Generation I design.

In 2008, the government announced its support for additional nuclear stations to meet projected energy needs, with plans to promote construction by 2025.

Earthquake hazard is considered low in Great Britain, says Stein.



Operational & Long Term Shutdown Reactors by Country



Country No. of Units Total MW(e)
BELGIUM 7 5926
BRAZIL 2 1884
CANADA 18 12569
CHINA 13 10058
FINLAND 4 2716
FRANCE 58 63130
GERMANY 17 20490
HUNGARY 4 1889
INDIA 20 4391
JAPAN 54 46821
MEXICO 2 1300
ROMANIA 2 1300
SPAIN 8 7514
SWEDEN 10 9298
UKRAINE 15 13107
Total: 442 374996


The following data is included in the totals:
No. of Units Total MW(e)

Long Term Shutdown
Country No. of Units Total MW(e)
CANADA 4 2530
JAPAN 1 246
Total: 5 2776



Under Construction Reactors by Country 



Under Construction
Country No. of Units Total MW(e)
BRAZIL 1 1245
CHINA 27 27230
FINLAND 1 1600
FRANCE 1 1600
INDIA 5 3564
JAPAN 2 2650
UKRAINE 2 1900
Total: 65 62862


The following data is included in the totals

  No. of Units Total MW(e)






















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Comment by casey a on January 3, 2015 at 11:21pm
Comment by bill on November 11, 2011 at 9:15pm
Comment by bill on November 11, 2011 at 9:14pm
Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on October 6, 2011 at 1:59am

Spill at Wyoming uranium mine triggers NRC ‘special investigation’

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched a “special investigation” today to determine if workers were exposed to “yellowcake” after an incident at Uranium One USA Inc.’s Irigaray and Christensen Ranch in-situ uranium mine in northeast Wyoming.

Uranium mine black bloxes at the Christensen Ranch

Black boxes cover wellheads at the Christensen Ranch in-situ uranium mine near the Pumpkin Buttes in the southern Powder River Basin. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile - click to enlarge)

According to a NRC press release, the incident occurred on Sunday. Two workers were in the vicinity of a “dryer” containing yellowcake — yellow uranium oxide powder — when they heard an alarm and the dryer automatically shut down.

The yellowcake dryer is located inside an enclosed building.

“It appears that a seal on the dryer may have broken, causing the yellowcake powder to escape,” the NRC stated in the press release. “Current information indicates there were no major safety impacts or release to the environment as the dryer is housed inside a pressurized sealed room within a building.”

In an unrelated incident, Wyoming environmental regulators recently issued the same mine operator a notice of violation (NOV) related to a 10,000 gallon spill of brine in August.

Because of the incident on Sunday, a NRC inspector traveled to the Wyoming uranium mine on Wednesday to determine whether workers were exposed to yellowcake, and to evaluate the operator’s corrective actions already in the works.

NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding told WyoFile that it appears the workers were wearing proper protective clothing to avoid exposure to the uranium material. To determine whether there was an exposure, air samples will be analyzed. Also, the workers underwent urinalysis testing.

“We got results back today, and uranium was non-detectable … So they had no intake of uranium,” Donna Wichers, Uranium One senior vice president of in-situ operations, told WyoFile in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Both Uselding and Wichers said that radiation from yellowcake is low enough to be a secondary human health concern compared to ingesting the uranium ore. “Because it’s a heavy metal,” said Wichers. “It would be just like if you ingested lead or any other heavy metal.”

Wichers described the entire incident as a “non-event,” and said the NRC inspector was scheduled to visit the mine anyway. She said once the NRC decided to launch a special investigation, part of the agency’s protocol is to issue a press release, “Which we tried to talk them out of,” Wichers said.

The NRC will issue a public report of the investigation within 45 days.

Comment by bill on October 2, 2011 at 11:15am


September 2011

Current Updates to be found here:


August 2011


*CURRENT UPDATES to be found here:

Fukushima Radiation




May 29, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Radiation Plumes are from more than Fukushima....

May 26, 2011 News of Inspection because of damage and radiation leaks at Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant in the Ibaraki Prefecture village of Tokai

(Mainichi Japan) May 26, 2011

IAEA team visits nuke plant in Ibaraki Pref.
Mike Weightman, head of the IAEA team of inspectors, delivers a speech before inspecting the Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant in the Ibaraki Prefecture village of Tokai on May 26. (Mainichi)
Mike Weightman, head of the IAEA team of inspectors, delivers a speech before inspecting the Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant in the Ibaraki Prefecture village of Tokai on May 26. (Mainichi)

MITO (Kyodo) -- A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant Thursday in Ibaraki Prefecture as part of an inquiry into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

At the plant, which was also affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the team received a briefing from officials of operator Japan Atomic Power Co. on the disaster's impact and toured its reactor building and a water intake area where a pump was destroyed by the tsunami.

While the plant in the Pacific coastal village of Tokai automatically halted operation in the quake, one of its three emergency power sources became unavailable temporarily due to the tsunami. The plant is now undergoing a regular checkup that lasts about six months.

During its 10-day mission through June 2, the team led by British Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations Mike Weightman is to conduct fact-finding and assess safety issues relating to the nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture north of Ibaraki. It will report its findings late June in Vienna.

A google search of Ibaraki Radiation Leaks, also shows proof that big trouble coming from Tokai #2 Nuclear Plant...

  1. Fishing Halted in Japan's Ibaraki as Radiation Leaks to Sea ...

    Apr 6, 2011 ... Fishermen in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan's fifth-largest seafood producer, halted operations after tainted fish were detected south of ...
Comment by bill on October 2, 2011 at 11:11am
Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 13, 2011 at 5:19pm
Virginia backtrack on US nuclear facility.

Quake shook nuclear plant beyond structural limits

Operator reports no damage on site

The Aug. 23 central Virginia earthquake shook the North Anna nuclear power plant harder than it was designed to withstand, officials from Dominion Virginia Power told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday.

But Eugene Grecheck, vice president for nuclear development for Dominion, said ongoing inspections by the company have revealed no damage to "safety-related" structures or systems at the plant, located on the shores of Lake Anna, some 11 miles north of the epicenter of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, the largest in Virginia in more than a century.

"The event that occurred at North Anna had high acceleration spikes but did not have sufficient duration of energy to cause any damage," Grecheck said. "We know that there is a (safety) margin in the plant."

At the meeting, NRC staff questioned whether Dominion had sufficiently inspected the two nuclear cores that remain loaded with radioactive uranium fuel rods.

"We have seen no anomalies or issues with the core," said Larry Lane, Dominion's site vice president for the North Anna plant, adding that core inspections would continue.

Lane said that the unit 1 reactor could restart Sept. 22 and that unit 2, which is being refueled as previously scheduled, could restart Oct. 13. During the quake, the two reactors at the plant automatically shut down.

But the company cannot restart the reactors until given approval by the NRC, and the commission gave no hints as to when that approval would be forthcoming. A special NRC inspection team is conducting a three-week inspection of the facility.

The NRC's Jack Grobe told Dominion officials to expect continued probing of the plant's safety. "I guarantee you you're going to get a lot of, 'Did you think of this, did you look at that?' " said Grobe, associate director of the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

The incident marks the first time a nuclear reactor has shut down after an earthquake in the nation's 53-year history of commercial nuclear power.


Comment by bill on October 2, 2011 at 11:10am


Explosion at French Nuclear Facility Kills One

PHOTO: The Marcoule nuclear plant is shown in Chusclan, France, in this March 30, 2011 file photo.

An explosion at a nuclear facility in France has killed one person, injured at least three others but does not appear to have caused radiation to leak from the site, French officials said today.

The explosion occurred at a nuclear waste processing center in the Marcoule nuclear facility in southern France.

Officials at France's atomic energy commission told ABC News the explosion occurred in a furnace used to melt waste with low to very low radioactive levels. The blast was contained completely in the furnace.

Kenya Pipeline Explosion Kills At Least 61 Watch Video


France's government nuclear safety body, the ASN, released a statement hours after the explosion reporting that there did not appear to be any radioactive leak.

"This is an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident," said a spokesperson for the energy firm EDF, which operates the plant.

The Marcoule nuclear facility does not house any active nuclear reactors.

French nuclear officials downplay risks from blast

No leak of radioactive material in explosion that killed 1, safety body says

  The French nuclear Marcoule site, scene of an explosion Monday, is in the Gard region of France, in Languedoc-Roussillon, near the Mediterranean Sea. (Reuters)

Beginning of Story Content

An explosion at a nuclear waste-management site at the Marcoule complex in southeastern France on Monday has killed at least one man, but safety officials say there was no leak of radioactive material at one of the country's oldest nuclear facilities.

Four people were also injured in the explosion, which occurred around 12:37 p.m. local time. One person was badly burned

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 29, 2011 at 6:53pm

Link cut off:

The plant shut down safely and will remain offline until workers determine what happened and resolve the issues.
No workers were injured.

Steam from a secondary cooling loop was released during the incident, said Prema Chandrathil, public affairs officer for the NRC in Region III that includes Michigan.

The concentrations of tritium in the steam were “far below regulatory releases,” she said. The tritium dissipates in the atmosphere.

“As soon as it goes out, it gets diluted further,” Chandrathil said.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

The Sept. 25 shutdown is the second one this month. The nuclear facility at 27780 Blue Star Highway in Covert Township was taken down Sept. 16 because of the leak from the pressurized spray valve.

For more information on the power plant, visit

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 29, 2011 at 6:52pm

Another shutdown Bill

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant shutdown is investigated by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Posted Sep 28, 2011 @ 09:57 PM


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a special inspection at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven to review the circumstances of a reactor shutdown during the weekend.

Steam containing “very low levels” of the radioactive isotope tritium was released after the incident, but posed no safety risks to the public, an NRC spokeswoman said.

The plant, owned by Mississippi-based Entergy, provides about 18 percent of Consumers Energy’s power.

“The plant is in a safe shutdown condition but we have a number of questions about the complexity of the series of events that led to the reactor trip and want to better understand the actions taken by the plant staff before the reactor shutdown and in response to the event,” said NRC Region III Administrator Mark Satorius.

The special inspection team began work Tuesday and will review the sequence of events, evaluate the circumstances and review the plant’s actions surrounding the automatic reactor shutdown. The team will also review the plant staff’s evaluation of what happened, its corrective actions and determine if there are any lessons to be learned from the event, the press release said.

The results of the inspection will be available 45 days after the investigation is complete. The report could lead to more inspections and, if violations are discovered, fines could be assessed.

“Palisades will cooperate fully with the NRC’s inspection and share any information gathered during our own in-house root cause evaluation, as well as from an Entergy corporate team that started its work yesterday,” plant spokesman Mark Savage said.

The issue involved plant workers who were performing maintenance on an electrical panel when a small metal piece located inside the breaker panel came into contact with another metal piece and caused an arc. This resulted in a series of electrical issues that caused the plant to shut down and sent signals to multiple plant systems causing certain safety pumps to start and some safety valves to reposition.

The plant shut down safely and will remain offline until workers determine what happened and resolve

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 28, 2011 at 11:00pm

Didn't know where to  post this Bill but it seems a good enough placce as any.  I'm expecting alot of nuclear facility unexpected shutdowns.  Just a gut feeling

Officials investigate reactor shutdown at Robinson plant

HB Robinson

Credit: Morning News File Photo

Officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Progress Energy are looking into an unplanned reactor shutdown that occurred at the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Plant near Hartsville on Monday.


Officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Progress Energy are looking into an unplanned reactor shutdown that occurred at the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Plant near Hartsville on Monday.

“We had an automatic plant trip,” said Progress Energy spokesperson Jessica Lambert, who said a faulty electrical relay caused the shutdown. Progress Energy owns and operates the plant.

The incident happened at about 11:45 a.m., Lambert said. She said the shutdown occurred when the system that monitors the flow of coolant through the reactor’s coolant system indicated a low flow of coolant in the system.

Lambert said plant officials have now determined that the incident resulted from a failed electrical relay in the reactor protection system and not from a problem in the coolant system.

The reactor was still down on Wednesday, and Lambert said plant personnel are working to make the needed repairs to bring it back into service soon.

“Of course, the NRC has on-site inspectors here, and we are working very closely

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