NUKES ARE VULNERABLE TO AIRPLANE ATTACK
UNPLUG SALEM URGES CLOSURE OR SAFETY CHANGES
The UNPLUG Salem Campaign, a network of 106 organizations that watchdogs the Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Plants, is today urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NJ Senators and Congressmen, and Governor to shut down the four New Jersey nuclear plants (Salem 1 and 2, Hope Creek and Oyster Creek) until the plants can be made safe against a terrorist suicide attack similar to the World Trade Center.
In a letter faxed to NRC Chairman Richard Meserve, the UNPLUG Salem Campaign urged that the spent fuel pools, and any proposed dry cask storage, in all four plants be covered with a containment and that this containment and each plant be upgraded to resist a suicide commercial jet airliner crash. The UNPLUG Salem Campaign was withholding this information as to not upset the public, but now that the newspapers have extensively reported on this safety issue, UNPLUG Salem has decided to press its concerns to the NRC and public officials.
The NRC's own reports admit that the two Salem Nuclear Plants, as well as Hope Creek and Oyster Creek cannot withstand a hit by an airplane. NRC allowed Salem Units 1 and 2 to be built without safeguards for an airplane crash. In addition, the Oyster Creek plant recently failed a routine NRC security test, and in the test, was unable to defend its reactor core.
Area deaths in the case of a catastrophic accident at Salem were calculated by the Sandia National Laboratory in 1982 (CRAC-2 Report) to be 102,000 fatalities with many more to die of cancer in the years following such an accident. . With today's larger population in the Salem/Delaware area, the death toll would be much higher.
According to David Lochbaum, Nuclear Safety Engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, "NRC's own reports show that the Salem plants are NOT protected from an airplane hit unless the airplane weighs less than 1,571 pounds and flies less than 150 miles per hour."
Lochbaum's main safety concerns were with the vulnerability of the spent fuel pools. At Salem, the spent fuel pool is housed in a corrugated metal building outside the relative safety of the containment building. An attack on the spent fuel pool could lead to a Chernobyl-like radioactive cloud that would blanket the South Jersey and Delaware area.
" In today's world, we are now acutely aware that the threat of a suicide terrorist is horribly real", said Norm Cohen, UNPLUG Salem Campaign Coordinator. He continued, "citizens in South Jersey don't need a stationary nuclear bomb as a terrorist target. PSE&G (the owner-operator of Salem) and the NRC now must prove to the public that the two Salem Nuclear Plants can withstand a direct crash by a large airplane. If they can't, the two Salem Plants should be shut down."
Lochbaum's conclusions are based on Section 3.5 of the NRC's Safety Evaluation Report for the Salem Generating Station: "Safety related structures and equipment have been designed and constructed to withstand the effects of tornado generated missiles. Among these structures are the auxiliary building, the control room, the containment, and the fuel handling building. "The critical missile assumed by the applicants in their design is a 40 foot, 12 inch diameter wooden utility pole weighing 50 pounds per cubic foot and moving with a velocity of 150 mph. The modified Petry formula was used to determine the minimum depth of reinforced concrete required. "The criteria used in the design of Category I structures, to account for the loading due to specified missile impacts postulated to occur at the facility site, provide a conservative design basis for determining the forces on the structure to assure that such impact forces will not penetrate structures, shields and barriers beyond acceptable limits as governed by the strength and resistance offered by such structures, shields, and barriers. We have concluded that conformance with these design loading criteria is an acceptable basis for satisfying AEC General Design Criteria Nos. 2 and 4." From Section 2.2 of the NRC's Safety Evaluation Report for the Salem Generating Station: "The nearest commercial airport is The Greater Wilmington Airport which is located 21 miles north-northwest of the site. We have reviewed the matter of airport proximity to nuclear power plants in the Shoreham Nuclear facility licensing case. On the basis of this study, we have concluded that the Salem site is sufficiently far from an airport of significant size that the probability of a crash is essentially that associated with general overflights and that the Salem facility need not be designed or operated with special provisions to protect the facility against the effects of an aircraft crash."