Map It: Nuclear Power and Earthquakes in the United States

EartquakesWith Japan’s nuclear reactors on the brink of potential meltdown, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nuclear power plant that is about 20 miles from my house… and the over 100 nuclear power plants that are spread throughout our country. Many of these are located near some of the most densely populated areas in the United States, and most are fairly old. What would happen if a natural disaster like the one that struck Japan, struck here? I don’t have any expert answer to that question, but I did think that it might be useful to fire up our Rhiza Upshot web app and start looking at some data.

I imported a dataset of (approximate) locations for where the nuclear power plants are in the US, and also imported a real-time feed of data from the USGS of seismic events within the past week, globally. The map below is the result of that effort:

The map above is fully interactive, you can zoom, pan, etc. If you click on the little legend icon on the left, you can tuck it out of the way and get a larger view of the data.

While there are not precise conclusions to be drawn from looking at only 7 days of seismic activity in the US, the map is nonetheless interesting, since most people don’t realize how close they live to a nuclear power plant. I’ll leave the more precise analysis to others who have more expertise in this area.