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…but the spent fuel pools which are outside of the core reactor containment vessel are not built to the same standards…

Hmmmm. Good information. I don’t have any reason to suspect my friend of withholding that from me, since I didn’t really know to ask. He was a little pressed for time, so he only really got to address my two questions about EMP/solar storms (i.e. total power loss both grid and emergency/auxiliary), and a direct strike on the reactor building with a 747, for example. He went into enough detail that I think he just ran out of time. So your additional factors are helpful in understanding.

Interestingly, as we talked, I made the comment that everything depended on equipment obtained from and built by the lowest bidders, and he laughed and concurred. He also very briefly shared some things that I would not expect are classified, but are still rather sensitive, so I chose not to share them here. He first shared some things that in general are NOT addressed, and also made the statement that everything depends on all the parts and people working together and as designed. He finished the conversation with an event about which he was intimately aware, in which one of those, “Well, we didn’t think of that possibility” events happened. It was exceptionally problematic as I listened to it, and if widely known, could probably give cyber warriors ideas on things they might try out on our systems. He did agree with me that trusting government bureaucrats is like trusting a body of elected officials to always do the ethically, morally, and legally correct thing. And we both agreed that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real, too….

While we’re certainly not completely safe, by any stretch of the imagination, it is still nice to know that two of the oft-cited vulnerabilities really aren’t as much of a danger as many think (total electrical power failure and a direct hit on the reactor building by a fully loaded jumbo jet). The two of us still ended the conversation with the thought that some things simply cannot be fully prepared for, and there will always be glitches even in the best-laid plans built by the lowest bidders. In those scenarios, it may be so universally bad that it really won’t matter very much if we’re reasonably “fully” prepared. That’s just impossible for all the scenarios that could possibly crop up – even the “experts” haven’t thought of them all. (What happens with another 8.0 in Missouri, for example? There was damage as far away as Columbia and Charleston, SC, back when those quakes hit in 1811/12. Geology in the eastern US permits far wider damage than an earthquake in southern California, for example.)

But I can’t protect against all that. So I drop back to my Bobby McFerrin strategy.