Nuclear Power Facilities in Seismic and Storm Surge Zones

Mar 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Environmental Management

Global Map of Long-term Energy Security, Seismic, Tsunami and Storm Surge Risk (Courtesy of Maplecroft)

From Maplecroft, March 24, 2011

The recent Fukushima Daiichi incident has reopened the nuclear debate. Risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft has produced a global map of nuclear power stations, revealing the vulnerability to seismic, tsunami and storm surge risk of these facilities and the levels of energy security risks that countries face in the long-term.

The map has been produced for companies to identify potential risks to operations supply chains and investments worldwide and to support disaster preparedness programs that build on the lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Seismic Risk to Nuclear Power Facilities

The highest concentrations of seismic risk are concentrated around the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’. Japan clearly stands out as having the highest concentration of nuclear facilities in an active seismic area, however Taiwan, South Korea and mainland China also have nuclear plants in areas exposed to either seismic or tsunami and storm surge hazards.

The USA, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China are amongst the top nuclear power producing nations in terms of absolute energy production. Justifiable concerns about nuclear power generation, especially in seismically active areas, will need to be balanced against the threat to long-term energy security. These concerns also need to be looked at in tandem with commitments to diversify energy supply away from carbon intensive generation to reduce overall emissions.

Storm Surge Risk

Further risks exist in the potential destructive power of storm surges. The eastern seaboard of the United States and northern coastal Europe are exposed to storm surges from intense low pressure weather systems (either tropical cyclones or severe extra-tropical cyclones). There are nuclear power facilities located in each of these regions and construction of these facilities will need to account for the storm surge potential.

In the Gulf of Mexico storm surges in excess of seven meters have been recorded during tropical cyclones. In contrast to the recent Japanese tsunami, storm surges can be forecast further in advance thus ensuring populations, governments and industry can be more adequately prepared.

About Maplecroft

Maplecroft is a leading source of global risk analysis. They research, index and map over 500 risks and issues to identify exposures and opportunities in both countries and companies. Maplecroft’s products and services are a vital resource for businesses and investors requiring analysis and insight into complex political, economic, social and environmental risks.

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