Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2020
Forty percent of the world’s nuclear reactors sit on coastlines, vulnerable to multiple climate catastrophes. With sea levels expected to rise 3.28 feet or more by 2100, reactors like St. Lucie in Florida, don’t have a chance. Operators of Florida’s Turkey Point reactor intend to run it for 80 years. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission claims that rising sea levels and their effect on Turkey Point are “outside the scope of the agency.” Thus, in granting an extended operating license to Turkey Point, rising sea levels don’t even figure.
Fukushima stands as the case study of Reactors v. Ocean. Site of the world’s only triple meltdown, caused by an earthquake and its follow-on tsunami, Fukushima still spews radiation into the Pacific daily, nine years after it began. According to the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity, coastal areas report an increase in cesium-137 from Fukushima, first detected 100 miles off the California coast in 2014. Today, of the 56 reactors currently under construction, 93% face the fury of rising tides and ever-more-severe hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons. Unfortunately, China, Indonesia, and East Asia continue to build and host the reactors most at risk, since these regions are the most and first affected by the Earth’s warming.
As the nuclear industry continues to blunder ahead building new reactors and operating old ones on vulnerable seafronts, coastal communities continually face Fukushima Roulette.