The Fukushima nuclear disaster brought to the forefront how much damage mother nature could inflict on nuclear plants, and prompted a global nuclear safety review. Stateside, these new safety measures have so far passed a major test – withstanding damages as Hurricane Irma barreled into Florida over the weekend.
Hurricane Irma was seen as the toughest test for the nuclear industry since Fukushima. Had something gone wrong – it could have easily sent uranium demand expectations into a tailspin, halting the anemic price recovery.
The Florida coast is home to two nuclear power plants that were in the possible path of the storm. According to Florida Power and Light, both plants were designed to withstand storms stronger than any ever recorded in the region, but the design is one thing – reality is another.
U.S. nuclear operators have taken steps to improve preparations for disasters since Fukushima with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requiring plants to install portable pumps and generators to keep water moving over fuel rods and the spent fuel pool even if the offsite power supply was lost. In Japan, the Fukushima disaster occurred as disrupted power supplies caused the fuel in some units to meltdown. If a similar occurrence would happen again, it would offer an even bigger setback to the industry. When it came to Fukushima faulty design was partly to blame. If proper design still resulted in a nuclear meltdown, then you could bet that this would cause almost everyone to rethink their nuclear plans.
Fortunately, this did not happen, and so far the nuclear plants escaped any serious damages, a positive development for the nuclear industry because it shows that proper design can result in safe nuclear power generation, even during natural disasters.