Nuclear Energy
4:48 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

Callaway is prepared for "worst case" disasters, says Ameren

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Missouri’s sole nuclear power plant was built to handle “worst case” natural disasters.

That’s what Ameren officials told reporters Friday morning, at a press conference called in response to the nuclear crisis in Japan.

The utility’s Chief Nuclear Officer, Adam Heflin, said the Callaway County plant has numerous back-up safety systems. Those include six sources of electrical power designed to protect against a total station blackout like the one at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

“Probably the number one thing that we focus on is nuclear safety, and that’s protecting the health and welfare of the public,” Heflin said.

Heflin said Callaway is designed to withstand the most severe earthquakes, tornadoes, and flooding that could happen in our region.

Missouri environmental groups aren’t so sure.

Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment is no fan of nuclear power.

He calls the U.S. nuclear industry a “financial black hole” that he says is only surviving because of economic support from states and the federal government.

And Smith says the current nuclear crisis in Japan shows how difficult it is to protect nuclear plants from natural disasters.

“What we need to understand about nuclear power is that we don’t know all the answers to how to respond to a natural disaster because the variables are unknown,” Smith said.

Ameren officials say the Callaway facility is among the world's safest.