Fall Quarterly 2017
On Tues., Aug. 29, three environmental groups jointly called for the immediate shutdown of the twin South Texas Project nuclear reactors near Bay City, Texas which was directly in the track of Hurricane Harvey. Instead, the reactors have been kept running at full capacity throughout the disaster. Karen Hadden of the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition in Texas said “There is plenty of reserve capacity on our electric grid, so we don’t have to run the reactors in order to keep the lights on.” Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear in Maryland said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Reactor Oversight Project have both acknowledged the “credible threat of a severe accident initiated by a breach of the embankment wall that surrounds the 7,000-acre cooling water reservoir. It’s simply prudent that the operator put this reactor into its safest condition, cold shutdown.” And Susan Dancer of the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy said that after mandatory county-wide and Bay City evacuation orders, “It’s an outrageous and reckless decision that the nuclear reactors are still running….Where is the concern for employees and their families. Why is corporate profit being prioritized over caution and good judgment?”
Because some of the nuclear workers’ homes have been flooded, Buddy Eller, speaking for the reactor’s owners, said to BloombergMarkets.com Aug. 30, “The biggest issue is finding other employees who can safely make it back to the site.” Eller added that the reactors hadn’t been threatened by the rising waters and that hurricane force winds never reached them. However NuclearStreet.com reported, “The reactors kept operating despite the storm with wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph.” Hurricane strength is officially 74 mph.
As we go to press Hurricane Harvey, “could end up being the most costly weather disaster in US history, with its relentless rains flooding [tens of] thousands of homes, crippling the energy hub around Houston, and killing at least 46 people,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.