Natural Disasters Threaten U.S. Nuke Plants

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Natural disasters threaten nuclear power plants in two different parts of the country, a new report by the Associated Press has revealed. 
    
In Nebraska, emergency teams are monitoring flood waters surrounding one plant, while working to keep water from reaching another. In New Mexico, wildfires threaten the laboratory where the atomic bomb was made.

Meanwhile, a startling new Associated Press report has been released about the state of America's nuclear facilities.

Disaster Waiting to Happen?

An estimated 120 million Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear plant - about 40 percent of the U.S.

"We have a very good system right now to, I think, protect public health and safety," U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said.
  
But America's top nuclear official recommended a 50-mile radius for Americans living in Japan after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster earlier this year.

That system is being tested in New Mexico, where a raging wildfire has burned more than 44,000 acres. The steadily growing blaze is endangering the nation's main nuclear weapons lab.

"We are preparing for the fire to go in any direction. We don't know which way the wind is going to go until it gets here," Los Alamos County Fire Chief Doug Tucker said.

Firefighters have ordered all 12,000 residents of the town of Los Alamos to evacuate.
    
Although officials say the public is safe, a new report shows evacuation plans for some communities have not changed in 30 years -- and that could be disastrous in the event of a serious accident, like the one at Fukushima.

"They have not taken into account the issues associated with this uncontrolled population growth," said Dr. Edwin Lyman, the senior scientist of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Meanwhile, the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission toured two nuclear power plants in Nebraska Monday. Both facilities are being threatened by the flooded Missouri River.

One was surrounded by water Sunday after a flood barrier collapsed. The other is protected by a 10-foot wall to keep water out.

So far, officials say flooding is not a threat.

"The risk is really very low at this point that anything could go wrong," Jaczko said.

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