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US Nuke Plants Threatened by Extreme Heat

Posted by feww on July 20, 2011


Sustained Heat Could Overwhelm Cooling at Nuclear Power Plants

Extreme Heat Could Severely Impact Nuclear Power Plants in Central, Midwest and Eastern United States Leading to Potential Nuclear Disasters

Cooling at the U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

Map of the Licensed Nuclear Reactors in the U.S. Subdivided by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Regions.

All but less than two dozen of a total of 104 nuclear reactors in the U.S. fall within the extreme heat zone as shown in the forecast map below.

Persistent heat could severely impact the ability of cooling systems in the reactors, causing overheating in one or more NPPs that could potentially lead to nuclear disasters at multiple locations.

Hazards Assessment Map

NWS has forecast that excessive heat will persist from today through July 29 in all the eastern half of the country except for the Northeast. Click image to enlarge.

Highest Heat Indexes

Tuesday’s highest recorded heat indexes in the U.S. were

    • Knoxville, Iowa: 131 (ºF)
    • Freeport, Illinois: 124
    • Madison, Minnesota: 124
    • Watertown, Wisconsin: 119
    • Tekamah, Nebraska: 117
    • Camberlain, South Dakota: 115

Heat Index Forecast:

  • Washington, DC: 116
  • Richmond, Virginia: 118

Maximum heat index forecast for July 22, 2011. Click image to enlarge.

Probability of a Nuclear Disaster by Country

The following probability figures are calculated by FIRE-EARTH on April 8, 2011 (Last UPDATED: July 20, 2011)

  • Japan (880)³
  • United States (870)
  • France (855)
  • Taiwan (850)
  • Belgium, China, Finland, India,  South Korea, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Armenia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania,  Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain,  Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico,  South Africa, Canada (810)
  • Germany, Sweden, Netherlands (800)
  • Switzerland  (750)


  1. The list represents a snapshot of events at the time of calculating the probabilities. Any forecast posted  here is subject to numerous variable factors.
  2. Figures in the bracket represent the probability of an incident occurring out of 1,000; the forecast duration is valid for the next 50  months.
  3. Probability includes a significant worsening of Fukushima nuclear disaster, and future quakes forecast for Japan.
  4. A nuclear incident is defined as a level 5 (Accident With Wider Consequences), or worse, on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). See below.
  5. Safety issues considered in compiling these lists include the age, number of units and capacity of nuclear reactors in each country/state, previous incidents, probability of damage from human-enhanced natural disasters, e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, wildfires, flooding… ]
  6. The Blog’s knowledge concerning the extent to which the factors described in (3) might worsen during the forecast period greatly influences the forecast. (Last UPDATED: July 20, 2011)

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