Download ALPF’s interim report: Minutes to Meltdown: EMP and the Threat to Nuclear Power
From ALPF’s Technology Working Group:
In 2011, in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) implemented a public comment period (available in the Federal Register) on proposed rule making procedures designed to mitigate nuclear power station blackouts.
The risk of meltdown from EMP disruption to cooling functions is real and could impact multiple stations simultaneously
Station blackouts occur when the power required to perform a cold (safe) shutdown of a reactor is not available. The risk identified by the commission demonstrated that certain redundant systems can become incapacitated under a variety of conditions.
However, proposed rules failed to address the risk of a station power interruption due to Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). Coronial Mass Ejections (CME) produce EMPs of varying magnitude daily. In 2012, the most powerful solar storm in 150 years passed within hours of Earth. According to NASA experts, “If it had hit, we [the U.S.] would still be picking up the pieces.”
Had the 2012 pulse impacted North America, it is also possible that the effects would have interrupted critical cooling functions at nuclear generation facilities. The risk of meltdown from EMP disruption to cooling functions is real and could impact multiple stations simultaneously. As of April 2015, the NRC has yet to impose requirements that would mitigate these risks.
The American Leadership & Policy Foundation technology working group continues to inform the public and collaborate with experts in the nuclear sector to develop and propose commonsense solutions to this critical vulnerability. View ALPF’s interim report: Minutes to Meltdown
Electronic control of nuclear reactors presents a key vulnerability
Current reactors must be shut down slowly to reach a cold (safe) status
EMP will damage the SCADA (control) and LPT (cooling power) systems necessary for normal operation and safe shutdown
As it stands, an EMP would also damage the secondary cooling systems that would be needed for safe shutdown in an emergency
Along with the secondary and tertiary impacts of an EMP attack; loss of power, telecommunications, transportation, water and sanitation, food shipment – it is likely that nuclear power plants, in their current configuration, would be vulnerable to an increased risk of meltdown
There are 99 active reactors in the United States
The potential for serious and irreversible damage to large areas of the homeland from a series of meltdowns in the wake of an EMP event must be investigated and corrected