The Fukushima disaster prompted the NRC to reevaluate the flooding and seismic hazard potential at all nuclear power plants nationwide, including Indian Point and those along the Northeast Coast. The NRC did not require power plants to conduct any additional flooding or safety studies specifically in response to Sandy because all plants in the storm’s path performed as designed even at the height of the storm surge, NRC spokeswoman Diane Screnci said.
The NRC is requiring all nuclear power plant operators to use “present-day” data to re-evaluate flooding and seismic hazard potential, and if the hazards are found to be worse than originally calculated, the NRC will analyze the data to determine if a plant’s structure and components need to be updated to account for the new hazards, she said.
Nuclear power plant operators are required to account for climate change-driven sea level rise in their re-evaluations of long-term flooding risk for each plant, Screnci said.
The NRC is requiring nuclear plant operators to use National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide gage data to determine trends in the height of sea level. “The long-term sea level rise should be derived for the expected life of the nuclear power plant based on the trend in site or regional tide gage station data,” the NRC’s post-Fukushima hazard re-evaluation guidance document said.
Indian Point’s flooding risk re-evaluation is due on Dec. 31. The deadline for other Northeast nuclear plants is in March, 2014.
The nuclear power industry says that climate change and sea level rise do not pose any significant problems at Indian Point and other lower-lying nuclear power plants in the Northeast, and it envisions no circumstance in which a storm or flood could present a scenario that a nuclear power plant was not designed to handle.