After an EMP Event, Can A Nuclear Plant Shutdown Safely?

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Pole Transformers

Pole transformers could be burned out by a major electrical pulse. Image Courtesy of Versageek

An EMP’s Effects on Nuclear Reactors: Protection

So, how can nuclear reactors be protected from the effects of an EMP?  There are a number of simple changes that could make a big difference in the event of an electromagnetic pulse. For example:

  • Sensitive transmission components and electrical control systems can be encased in a metallic shield that would prevent external EMPs from entering.
  • Antennas and power connections can be equipped with surge protectors.

Mitigating the catastrophic effects of an EMP requires engineering know-how which many companies have spent time evaluating. In addition to the metallic shields for larger structures, a second layer of protection from clamp devices can add  local protection of high-risk components thus hardening against EMP. For new installations, cost for these protections are minimal. For older installations, identifying critical components and retrofitting is in process.

The Future of Nuclear Power and EMP-Damage-Prevention

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, through review and response to petitions for rulemaking, are reviewing potential effects of prolonged station blackouts for future action. The good news? The next generation of nuclear power, which uses advanced gravity-fed cooling, will not be burdened with this issue.

Sources

Carafano, J., Weitz, R. EMP Attacks- What the U.S. Must Do Now. (2010). Accessed January 25, 2012.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Power & Energy Systems Group, Ferc. EMP-GIC Metatech Reports 319-324 Executive Summary. Accessed January 25, 2012.

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Petition for Rulemaking. (2011). Accessed January 25, 2012.

Hardened Structures Hardened Shelters, LLC. EMP Protection. Accessed January 25, 2012.

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