As radiation fears rise in the wake of the potential disaster unfolding at a Japan nuclear reactor, Marketwatch reported Wednesday that the Chinese government has called a temporary halt to approving new nuclear power plants until it has a chance to look over and possibly revise its safety standards.
The Chinese government's State Council has ordered safety checks at existing plants, Xinhua News Agency said. The report cited the Wall Street Journal as saying that China has 13 nuclear reactors in operation with at least 25 under construction and dozens more in the planning phase.
And three West Coast nuclear power plants have made The Daily Beast's list of the most vulnerable American nuclear plants, based on its assessment of "relative risks."The United States has 104 nuclear reactors, half of which are near major earthquake fault lines.
The two California plants it singled out — San Ofre in San Clemente, which it listed as No. 2 on the potential for disaster list, and Diablo Canyon at Avila Beach, which is No. 5 — are both near the San Andreas Fault.
No. 14, Columbia, in Richland, Wash., is 140 miles from a potentially active volcano. All three are within 250 miles of a volcano.
The Daily Beast lists their potential likelihood of an earthquake, as well. On a scale of 0-6, San Onofre gets a 4, Diablo Canyon a 5 and Columbia a 3. Their methodology is here.
Monday, numerous news outlets quoted Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as saying there is very little chance that harmful levels of radiation could reach American soil or territories as a result of any leak from Japan reactors. And they noted that the U.S. government reviewed its reactors and their potential safety in a quake following the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
— Lois M. Collins