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Report: Nuke Plants Unprotected from EMP, Terrorists, Solar Meltdown

From the Washington Examiner

America’s nuclear power plants, and the huge transformers they feed electricity to, are not protected from a growing collection of threats including terrorism, electromagnetic pulse and even solar weather, according to an extensive review of the industry.

And unless the industry and Washington move swiftly to install some protection, the chances are growing quickly that the nation could see a long blackout that could lead to riots and deaths.

“It’s going to kill us,” warned David Stuckenberg, chairman of the American Leadership and Policy Foundation.

His group’s report, “Electromagnetic Pulse and Space Weather and the Strategic Threat to America’s Nuclear Power Stations,” is the first to study the potential EMP and solar weather impact to the nation’s collection of nuclear plants.

The report, provided to the Washington Examiner, found that the industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have done little to address the threats. That’s despite a 2012 solar flare near-miss that could have dismantled some plants and growing fears of terrorism, such as a small atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S. that could scuttle the nuke plants and fry the transformers, causing huge blackouts.

What’s more, the report authors found that the industry has done little in reaction to the 2011 Japanese nuclear disaster that dismantled several power plants in a tsunami.

For example, some of the backup generators needed to fuel cooling in the six Fukushima nuclear plants were destroyed, resulting in catastrophe. In the U.S., there are inadequate plans to handle similar generator losses, the report said.

A condensed version of the report is to be published in the Harvard National Security Journal Online.

The report already has drawn the attention of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which agreed with the report’s conclusions that, like Fukushima, U.S. facilities that host multiple nuclear plants are at high risk.

“Prior to Fukushima, the consensus worldwide was that a nuclear accident would be confined to a single reactor,” said a top nuclear scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But the report quite properly points out that the threat could challenge multiple nuclear plants. If so, our pre-planned mitigation resources might be as ineffective as the single-reactor resources had been at Fukushima,” he added.

Stuckenberg, an Air Force pilot who is the unpaid chairman of the independent think tank that produced the report, suggested a stopgap plan if the issue of EMP, terrorism and solar weather continues to be ignored: Store enough food and fuel to help people get through a prolonged blackout.