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Analysis: Nuclear operators face growing climate risks

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A new report finds nuclear power plants in this region will face heat stress in the future because of climate change. The analysis from Moody's Investors Service is titled "Nuclear operators face growing climate risk, but resiliency investments mitigate impact."

In the report, analysts found the Cook, Fermi, and Palisades nuclear power plants in Michigan and the nearby Davis-Besse plant in Ohio fall into the High Risk category (although Palisades is scheduled to close in 2022).

The analysis says that means the nuclear power plants will face relatively high changes in temperature extremes compared to the global average, according to the report.

“If the temperature goes up a little bit too high, the plan would either have to lower its output for a given period or maybe shut down if things are extreme,” said David Kamran one of Moody’s analysts.

The trickiest part for the nuclear power plant operators is reacting to how quickly changes in the climate happen. Recently, some models show the planet is getting warmer faster than previously thought.

“As these entities, the plants, want to have their licenses extended over many years, they may need to make additional investments to keep up with new information regarding climate and temperature and water, that sort of thing,” Kamran said.

The nuclear power plants use massive amounts of water. While the supply is not an issue, the temperature of the water could be an issue in the future depending on how fast the climate changes.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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