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What is the role of Geology for having a nuclear plant someplace? What makes it impossible to have one nuclear plant somewhere? What are the requirements to choose the place where the plant should be installed?
Question Date: 2020-12-16
Answer 1:

Geology has an OUTSIZED role when it comes to Nuclear plant siting. I could go on for pages here partly because I worked on this problem for many years.

One concern is seismicity. We don't want a plant near a site that is prone to large quakes. The building codes are very, very stringent; yet we should not site a plant where the chances of a large intensity quake with large ground accelerations can take place.

So a very thorough seismic risk analysi is always a big part of the regulatory requirements. A second issue, which is usually not as big of a problem is volcanic hazards. There are many other aspects from geology including proximity to active faults, blind faults and local superficial site stability. We don't want a plant on a surface underlain by unconsolidated sediments that can behave like quick sand!

Other issues also come into play: proximity to coastline and Tsunami risk, frequent large hurricanes and or local drainage and flood risks including Upstream Dams.

Then there are political issues: EVERYONE wants to flick a switch and have electricity. But few people want a Nuclear power plant “across the street”: this plant provides the electricity!

In the USA about 18 % of our electrical power comes from Nuclear power plants.

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