NRC Monitoring Earthquake and Tsunami

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, other top officials and nuclear experts at the NRC headquarters office and the Incident Response Center in our regional office in Texas are closely monitoring the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Chairman Jaczko said this: “The NRC resident inspectors who work at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo, Calif., are at the plant and working closely with plant personnel as they take appropriate precautions.”

Although not in a location that would likely be directly impacted by a possible tsunami, the NRC is also monitoring the San Onofre nuclear power plant, the Humboldt Bay spent fuel storage site and NRC-regulated nuclear materials sites in Hawaii and Alaska. All the sites tell the NRC they are prepared for possible tsunami effects.

The nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon, operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., did declare an “unusual event,” this morning — a designated based on NRC event classification requirements. The plant operators report that the facility is stable. And the plant is well protected against tsunami conditions as required by NRC regulations.

In fact, all nuclear power plants are built to withstand environmental hazards, including earthquakes. Even those plants that are located outside of areas with extensive seismic activity are designed for safety in the event of such a natural disaster. The NRC requires that safety-significant structures, systems, and components be designed to take into account the most severe natural phenomena historically reported for the site and surrounding area.

More information about seismic protections at nuclear power plants can be found here:

Eliot Brenner
Office of Public Affairs Director
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