Last night at a GOProud gathering, our reader Leah faulted the media for dwelling on the problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant and ignoring the plight of the Japanese suffering in the wake of the terrible tsunami. “They’re making it sound,” she said, “like a nuclear bomb is about go off.”
And then, as our reader Sonicfrog notes in a post on his blog, when reporting on the risks earthquakes pose to nuclear power plants, reporters ofenttimes don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. A plant manager at Southern California’s San Onofre nuclear power plan was trying to explain to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer . . .
. . . that the San Andreas fault is many miles away [from his plant], and also that they don’t build the reactors to Richter scale standards, but to Peak Ground Acceleration, measured in g’s. If the San Andreas does produce a quake of the same size, because of its distance from the plant, the motion transmitted to the reactors would be less severe than that of the closer fault.
Only the CNN correspondent thought the plant manager was trying to spin him! Sonic, as “ex geology major, specializing in seismology” unpacks things for us:
They don’t build reactors according to a Richter scale metric… Of course they don’t. The Richter scale relates the size and strength of the quake at the epicenter!!!!! That is the point or focus on the ground directly above the hypocenter of the seismic event… where the pressure released within the earths crust, some miles below the surface. [Read more…]