Hurricane Harvey No Match for Houston-Area Nuclear Reactors

Two nuclear reactors near Houston, Texas, operated safely at full capacity throughout the worst of Hurricane Harvey. The reactors kept the lights, refrigerators, and air conditioning on when other power sources could not.

Image courtesy of the GOES-16 satellite, CIRA/CSU processing.

Image courtesy of the GOES-16 satellite, CIRA/CSU processing.

Category 4 wind speeds were no match for the two reactors at the South Texas Project nuclear facility near Houston. As my colleague at, James Conca, pointed out, anti-nuclear power activists demanded the reactors shut down as the storm approached. However, the reactors have steel-reinforced concrete walls and watertight doors designed to withstand any strength hurricane or tornado. While hurricane-strength winds forced wind farm operators to shut down wind turbines, and while thousands of square miles of cloud cover shut down solar power, it was nuclear power that provided the power so crucial to Texans surviving Harvey’s worst impacts.

Anti-nuclear activists frequently point to Fukushima as an illustration to support their argument that nuclear power is too dangerous for power generation. However, Hurricane Harvey is a reminder that the 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami at Fukushima killed over 15,000 people, yet there is not a single documented instance of a person dying or becoming seriously ill resulting from the breach of the Fukushima nuclear reactors. U.S. nuclear reactors, meanwhile, are in safer locations and built to withstand more extreme circumstances than those at Fukushima.

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