Nuclear Plants May Not Have Up-to-Date Risk Assessments Complete: GAO
One might think that after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the 25 utilities that operate the more than 60 nuclear plants in this country would undertake new risk assessments to find out if their plants could wishstand the double-whammy of earthquakes and floods that caused the meltdown in Japan in 2011. Well, you'd be wrong. The Government Accountability Office, thanks to the efforts of Frank Rusco, who's already looked into the Department of Energy's much-criticized loan program, took a look (with the prompting of Rep. Ed Markey and Sen. Barbara Boxer) at what nuke plants have and haven't done post-Fukushima. The entire report here is well worth a read, and I told a look here too for CaliforniaWatch. It shows that most nuclear plant operators are relying on over-engineering and redundant systems to protect their billion-dollar nuclear plants, and haven't updated many of those plans since the 1980s. While its a belt-and-suspenders approach that can and often does work, the GAO notes that advances in computer power have made it possible, albeit at high cost, to model exactly what might happen in the case of a Fukushima-type one-two punch. That, says Rusco, can save utilities and taxpayers in the long run, especially as we embark on a new round of nuclear power licenses for the future.