August 15, 2012

Nuclear Power and Climate Change


A reactor at the Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn., has shut down because of something that its 1960s designers never anticipated: the water in Long Island Sound was too warm to cool it.
Under the reactor’s safety rules, the cooling water can be no higher than 75 degrees. On Sunday afternoon, the water’s temperature soared to 76.7 degrees, prompting the operator, Dominion Power, to order the shutdown of the 880-megawatt reactor.
“Temperatures this summer are the warmest we’ve had since operations began here at Millstone,’’ said a spokesman for Dominion, Ken Holt. The plant’s first reactor, now retired, began operation in 1970.
The chair of the NRC has asked the agency to look into the likely effects of climate change on nuclear power reactors. 
Dr. Macfarlane said the study would cover areas like how plants would fare if storms grew more severe and flooding increased, when cooling water became too hot, and how they might compete for water if rainfall patterns shifted.

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