GOOD

Interactive Map: The Real Seismic Threat to Our Nation's Nuclear Power Plants

This great interactive map from Climate Central lets you see the specific seismic threat to all 104 of the country's active nuclear reactors.

After we heard that local utilities in Virginia were shutting down the local nuclear power plant in the wake of the earthquake that shook the East Coast today, we pulled this map from our archives to see which other plants might be in harm's way. —The Editors, August 23, 2011

Last week, we posted a link to a map mashup of nuclear reactor sites and the USGS-described "seismic hazard zones" in the United States. Climate Central dug a little deeper into the data, and created a really interesting interactive map that further explores the earthquake risk to America's nuclear power plants.


The map shows all 104 active nuclear power plants within the Lower 48 states, the sites of all earthquakes within the past four months, and the sites of the 15 largest earthquakes in the region. Here's a screenshot, but if you go to the original you can click around and learn more about the acute risks to each plant.

When you click on a reactor site, you can see what type of reactor it is, who operates the plant, and, most importantly, the maximum ground acceleration risk. The what what?

During an earthquake, the ground shakes back and forth, and the damage is roughly proportional to the ground’s maximum acceleration (PGA). The map shows the two percent likelihood that the PGA will exceed the shown values in the next 50 years.

In other words, if the map shows that the PGA is 1.0g for a given spot (say, southeast Missouri), that means there is a two percent chance that the peak ground acceleration will be greater than 1.0g at some point in the next 50 years. PGA is measured in “g,” with one g being how quickly an object accelerates in free fall (you can also think about “pulling Gs,” as in a fighter plane).

The PGA risk is what is typically used to set building codes. Most nuclear power plants are designed to operate under 0.2g PGA, and automatically shut off if the PGA exceeds 0.2g. However, they can withstand a PGA many times larger than that.

\n

Nobody will be all that surprised that California's three nuclear reactors have a relatively high (emphasis on relatively) risk of seismic shaking. But there are

I, for one, was pretty shocked to learn that the power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire—which I grew up just about nine miles from—actually has a 2 percent likelihood of a maximum ground acceleration exceeding 0.15 in the next 50 years.


Here's the full list of nuke plants in the Lower 48 that have that same level of risk:
    \n
  • Diablo Canyon, Calif.
  • San Onofre, Calif.
  • Sequoyah, Tenn.
  • H.B. Robinson, SC.
  • Watts Bar, Tenn.
  • Virgil C. Summer, SC.
  • Vogtle, GA.
  • Indian Point, NY.
  • Oconee, SC.
  • Seabrook, NH.
  • \n

Before you get too alarmed, article author and map-creator David Kroodsma emphasizes:

The bottom line is that a major earthquake would probably not result in a nuclear meltdown at the reactors on the above map, but it could present significant engineering challenges. Quantifying the risks, and minimizing them as much as possible, is a key task for everyone involved in the nuclear energy industry.

\n

You can't help but wonder how seriously the engineers were taking these seismic risks 30-40 years ago when many of these were first built.

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading