Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, joined colleague Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., on Tuesday to call for more information on the seismic safety features that are included in nuclear reactors in operation in the United States.

In the wake of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the lawmakers sent a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko requesting information on the safety-significant structures, systems and components of America’s nuclear reactors, including power plants’ ability to sustain cooling function during a total station blackout, a situation that is affecting the Japanese reactors in distress.

“We are concerned that these reactors may not have the features necessary to withstand the sort of catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that has crippled several reactors in Japan and caused a meltdown and release of the highly radioactive materials contained within them,” Capps and Markey wrote in the letter. “We are concerned that San Onofre, Diablo Canyon and possibly other nuclear reactors located in seismically active areas are not designed with sufficient levels of resiliency against the sort of earthquakes scientists predict they could experience.”

According to analysis prepared by Markey’s staff, there are eight nuclear reactors on the seismically active West Coast of the United States, and 27 nuclear reactors located near the New Madrid fault line in the Midwest. Additionally, there are 31 nuclear reactors in the United States that are of the same Mark 1 or Mark 2 design as those imperiled in Japan, and 12 of these are located in seismically active zones.

Click here for a copy of the letter to the NRC.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.