Report Examines Seismic Criteria for Nuclear Plants


In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Six months later an earthquake along the East Coast of the United States briefly shut down a power plant in North Anna, Virginia. The two events caused lawmakers in both countries to inquire about the seismic criteria and design of commercial power plants.

The attached Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, reproduced as a public service by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), explains the seismic criteria applied to siting and designing U.S. commercial power plants. U.S. power plants vary considerably because most were custom built and custom designed. The report analyzes the plant designs for both Boiling Water Reactors and Pressurized Water Reactors, explains seismic criteria used in siting and briefly explains differences between Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis and Probabilistic Hazard Analysis.

According to FAS, “The CRS, a component of the Library of Congress, conducts research and analysis for Congress on a broad range of issues of national policy. While many CRS memoranda are generated in response to individual member or staff inquiries and are confidential, most CRS reports are available to anyone who has access to a congressional intranet.”

FAS also notes, “Yet at the direction of Congress, CRS does not make even its non-confidential publications directly available to the public online. In order to help overcome this unnecessary barrier, the Federation of American Scientists endeavors to provide current, regularly updated public access to as many non-confidential CRS reports as possible. These reports are provided without congressional or CRS authorization as a public service.”

>> Read the full report on seismic criteria for power plants.

CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations