Experts are warning the STP Nuclear Plant in Texas is unprepared for the unprecedented level of flooding in the area and claim the troubled nuclear plant could become the “new Fukushima” and contaminate the entire south of the USA.
Before Hurricane Harvey hit the area, STP Nuclear Plant officials claimed the nuclear reactor was prepared to weather the storm, with an article published in the Bay City Tribune in Texas boasting:
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“The plant site is located 10 miles inland and at an elevation of 29 feet, well above the reach of even a Category 5 storm surge. The plant was designed with watertight buildings and doors to keep emergency electric power and cooling systems fully functional. All buildings housing safety equipment are flood-proof to an elevation of at least 41 feet above mean sea level.”
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An article in the San Antonio Current also debated the plants safety in the wake of Fukushima and made similar points about a hurricane storm surge – but also made an important distinction about inland flooding from the Colorado River, located about 2 miles away from the plant.
According to officials, the STP Nuclear Plant is built to withstand a “worst case scenario“ of a 100 year flood on the Colorado River.
From the article:
“STP spokesman Buddy Eller said the five-foot-thick, bunker-like concrete reactor domes reinforced with steel are able to withstand hurricane Category 5 winds and a 41-foot storm surge…“We’re built to withstand a worst-case scenario involving a hurricane with combined wind and a 100-year flood along that Colorado River,” Eller said. “…we’re located at 29 feet above sea level.”
While these pre-Harvey boasts from officials and nuclear plant spokesman may have sounded impressive before the storm hit, they now become truly disturbing.
According to the two articles and the STP spokesman himself, the nuclear reactor can withstand a 41 foot storm surge from the ocean – but being at 29 feet above sea level, that only allows for 12 feet of inland flooding.
Let’s take a look at the river level gauge on the Colorado River at Bay City, about 10 miles upstream from the STP nuclear plant:
The Colorado River at Bay City is forecast to surge 27 feet in the next two days!
And considering the river is currently 9 feet above what was forecast for this time, according to the graph, this is likely to surpass the all-time record crest of the Colorado River in the next few days. That “100 year flood” the plant spokesman talked about which happened in 1913 crested at a level of 56.1 feet.
The highest crest of the Colorado River at Bay City since the STP nuclear plant began operating was 24.04 feet in 1991.
Is the STP plant designed to withstand a record flood? Judging by the brags and boasts coming from officials before Harvey hit, the nuclear plant is only designed to withstand a “worst case scenario” of 41 feet.
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, it is worth keeping a close eye on nuclear reactors in disaster zones. As we learned from TEPCO in Japan, officials cannot be trusted to tell the truth when there is such devastation on the line.
They designed a nuclear plant to withstand a “100 year flood” on the Colorado River? That’s negligent and reckless for a nuclear plant. It looks like STP will be facing a major test in the coming days, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it right now.