Monday, March 21, 2011

Ameren says that Callaway nuclear plant is safe

Ameren's sole nuclear power plant was built to handle “worst case” natural disasters. 

That’s what Ameren officials told reporters on Friday, at a press conference called in response to the nuclear crisis in Japan.

The utility’s Chief Nuclear Officer Adam Heflin says the Callaway County plant has numerous back-up safety systems. Those include six sources of electrical power designed to protect against a total station blackout like the one Japan.

“Probably the number one thing that we focus on is nuclear safety, and that’s protecting the health and welfare of the public,” Hefflin says.

Heflin says Callaway is designed to withstand the most severe earthquakes, tornadoes, and flooding that could happen in our region.

Missouri environmental groups say that no matter how safely a plant is designed and operated, it’s impossible to prepare for all the unknown variables involved in a natural disaster.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment’s Ed Smith calls the U.S. nuclear industry a “financial black hole” that he says is only surviving because of economic support from states and the federal government.

And Smith says the current nuclear crisis in Japan shows how difficult it is to protect nuclear plants from natural disasters.

“What we need to understand about nuclear power is that we don’t know all the answers to how to respond to a natural disaster because the variables are unknown,” Smith says.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio
Photo: Callaway Nuclear Plant courtesy of Ameren.


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