japan tsunami, nuclear power plants, japan nuclear power plant, seismic nuclear power plant, seismic areas, nuclear power plant construction
While the Japanese tsunami has reignited the concerns over nuclear power, one thing is clear - the rules governing the location of their construction are sure to change. One would argue that the construction of a nuclear power plant in a seismically unstable region was always a cause for concern, but Michael C. Constantinou, PhD, professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering at the University at Buffalo has said that the next generation of nuclear power plants and other energy facilities will be greatly influenced by the lessons learnt from the recent tragedy.According to Constantinou, it is possible to seismically isolate an entire facility on a concrete platform, however it is much more “technologically complex”.“If a is built at a site where a 30-foot tsunami wave is possible, if it comes, it is going to have a significant effect, there is no way to control for that,” says Constantinou, a structural engineer, and researcher with UB’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. “The only way to prevent the situation is to build the plant further inland, to seismically isolate it and, perhaps, to elevate it.”This sort of caution has been implemented with Russia’s oil and gas platforms in the North Pacific near the Sakhalin Island. They lie several hundred miles north of the epicenter of the March 11th Japanese earthquake.
“These platforms sit on concrete bases on the with legs that are about 80 meters tall, and the structure on top of the platform is another 20 stories high; the entire structure weighs some 30,000 tons,” he explains.
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