This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In "Reactors more vulnerable to earthquakes" (Tribune, Sept. 1), the Associated Press contradicted itself in suggesting that there isn't a "system" in place to evaluate the potential impact of low-probability seismic events on nuclear energy facilities in the eastern half of the United States.
The "system" that, in the AP's eyes, doesn't exist is the very same regulatory process that for the past several years has been incorporating improved seismic science into additional research of nuclear plant capabilities under what is known in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as "Generic Issue 199." Without the system it would have been impossible for the AP to do the "analysis of preliminary government data" that provided the technical basis for the AP article.
While focusing on low-probability seismic events that only occur every several thousands of years, the AP article failed to note that, in more than a half-century of operation, no U.S. nuclear energy facility has experienced significant damage due to earthquakes, including the recent Virginia-based quake.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stated repeatedly that, even as it and the nuclear energy industry take actions to further increase protections against extreme events, regardless of their cause, U.S. nuclear power plants continue to operate safely and securely.
Anthony R. Pietrangelo Chief nuclear officer, Nuclear Energy Institute