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« Numerous atomic reactors shut down or reduce power as Hurricane Irene batters East Coast | Main | NRC slaps FirstEnergy for safety violations at Perry »
Saturday
Aug272011

20 atomic reactors in 9 East Coast states poised to shut down as safety precaution in the face of Hurricane Irene

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Irene at 8:45pm Eastern FridayBusiness Insider reports that 20 atomic reactors in 9 states on the East Coast of the U.S. are poised to shut down as a safety precaution if Hurricane Irene's winds and waves prove too intense. The article links to a National Geographic report warning that downed trees could cause widespread power outages -- which would be exacerbated by atomic reactor shutdowns prompted as safety precautions. In fact, the second biggest electricity outage in world history, the August 14th, 2003 "Northeast Blackout," which plunged 50 million Americans and Canadians into darkness, was initiated by a single sagging tree limb in northwest Ohio touching a power line. This was the fault of FirstEnergy Nuclear, which had neglected its tree-trimming responsibilities, as it was distracted at the time by a costly and serious scandal at its Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo. The 2003 "Northeast Blackout" led to the safety-related shutdown of about two dozen atomic reactors as a safety precaution due to the unstable electrical grid, which dramatically widened the scope of the incident. As Beyond Nuclear has warned, nuclear power is too risky to operate as climate chaos worsens; this is due to the vulnerable locations of atomic reactors, such as on coastlines, subject to not only severe weather events such as storm surges, but also earthquake-spawned tsunamis and sea level rise due to global warming.