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Fear the Walking Dead: where did the meltdown occur?

Grace is ready to kill a radioactive zombie. Pic credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Last Sunday’s episode, The Hurt That Will Happen, revealed that there are irradiated zombies in this part of Texas due to a nearby reactor melting down.  While watching this episode my first thought was, “Well, where is that reactor?”  Which means I went looking and found some interesting things.

First off, there are two nuclear plants in the state of Texas.  One is the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station, located near Bay City, TX, putting it near the Gulf of Mexico.  This is actually one of the largest nuclear plants in the US, producing, as of 2017, a net output of 21,600 GWh.  Now, given some of the clues from the first episode–namely that the kids can’t go south because of roads being washed out–and the fact that all non-flat terrain Fear is in now looks nothing like what you’d find a few miles from the shore of the Gulf, it’s pretty obvious our people aren’t here.

Which leaves the other plant: Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, located about 40 mi (65 km) southwest of Ft. Worth. This places it pretty much in the middle of the state and the area around there looks a bit more like the area where Alicia, Morgan, and the others are currently trapped.

Grace mentioned that from the area of the crash site the plant was about 12 mi (20 km) to the north, and we know this is the edge of the contamination zone she set up because the fence she’d put in place was taken down during the crash.

This is area covered by a 12 mile/20 kilometer exclusion zone. Pic credit: Google Earth/Cassidy Frazee

Setting up a zone this size is actually close to what would happen in real life.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has defined a 10 mi/16 km radius emergency zone around the plant to avoid inhaling airborne contaminants.  So if one of the reactors melted down and the containment dome cracked, releasing contaminants into the air, you’d not want to get any closer than people are already.

However… there are actually two emergency zones around Comanche Peak and it’s that second one we have to wonder about.  The second zone defined by the NRC is 50 mi/80 km radius that is meant in the instant that one or both reactors go Full China Syndrome and sink through the floor of the containment dome, where groundwater will be contaminated and will, in turn, contaminate the food supply.

And this is the 50 mi/80 km exclusion zone. No eating or drinking here.  Pic credit: Google Earth/Cassidy Frazee

Now, since Grace hasn’t boogied on out of the area in a hurry, that’s probably a good indication that the containment dome wasn’t breached, thereby not turning this whole area into a radioactive hell hole.  Then again, Grace is dying, so maybe she doesn’t really give that much of a damn at the moment?  Nah.  The writers would never be that mean…

It is possible that the plant in question isn’t in the state of Texas, or that it could be made up, and the former seems likely.  Why?  Because Comanche Peak is only about 150 mi/240 km from Austin (where we know our gang is hanging out in the fictional Dead world) and it seems that they could have driven there if they wanted.  If that’s the case, where’s a good place to find a nuclear plant that’s melting down?

Your best location would be Arkansas Nuclear One, just to the west of Russellville, Arkansas. The local terrain is much like what we’re seeing now, and the distance from Austin is 435 mi/700 km, which now makes more sense when it comes to risking one’s life to flying to another location.  I mean, only fly if you have to fly, right?

Welcome to Arkansas, y’all. Pic credit: Google Earth/Cassidy Frazee

Now we can kinda guess where our characters are hanging out, trying not to end up either not eaten or glowing. The next question is: who are these CRM people?

I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

Fear the Walking Dead airs at 9 PM EDT on AMC.

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