Progress Energy officials say NC plants built to sustain disasters

Posted March 14, 2011

— With the threat of a possible meltdown looming at a Japanese nuclear plant, Progress Energy officials say that North Carolina's nuclear plants are built to sustain terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

“Although earthquakes aren't prevalent in the southeast U.S., our nuclear plants are designed to tolerate them,” Progress Energy Executive Vice President Jeff Lyash said Monday. “As a matter of fact, our Brunswick station on the coast has roughly the same seismic design criteria. The plant is built to withstand substantially the same earthquake movement as the Fukushima plant.”

Waters levels dropped precipitously Monday inside a Japanese nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, twice leaving the uranium fuel rods completely exposed and raising the threat of a meltdown, hours after a hydrogen explosion tore through the building housing a different reactor.

Water levels were restored after the first decrease, but the rods remained partially exposed late Monday night, increasing the risk of the spread of radiation and the potential for an eventual meltdown.

Officials say NC nuclear plants built to sustain Officials say NC nuclear plants built to sustain

Lyash says Progress will look for lessons from the Japanese nuclear failures, but he says the company remains committed to nuclear energy.

Duke Energy is in the midst of a merger with Progress. The problems in Japan will likely add new scrutiny to the combined company's plans to build new and improved nuclear facilities.

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  • Gab Mar 15, 2011

    Now we hear from ABC that GE's design is flawed per ex-designers that quit over concerns at Fu kushima.

    Moderator: strange, filter won't let me type Fu kushima correctly.

  • gunny462 Mar 15, 2011

    i think they should shut down all plants in the U.S Oops can't do that, PBOs freind, G.E who builds and maintains afew of them wouldn't like that ;)

  • wnsbuckley Mar 15, 2011

    If they came out and said NO we are not spec'd for major earth quakes then there would be a fire storm. The towers were spec'd for an airplane hitting them just not with fuel in the equation. So yes I believe they are spec'd for some sizmec activity but not a 8.9. With all the droughts down here do they have an endless amount of water to cool the rods? IF there was a chance for a melt down is there a way to remove the spent rods from the pools and safely transport them away from the facilities? What if a full of fuel airplane did hit it what would be the plan? Not to alarm anyone but this a great time for fire/EMS/Police/National Guard to plan a few senerio based excersizes and invite town officials to take part in the mitigation senerio.

  • Parrot Ice Mar 15, 2011

    Look at the facts: an earthquake of 9.0 coupled with a wave of water 10 mins. later was overwhelming. Historically, there has never been anything of this magnitude in Japan. Can NC survive a 9.0 shake? No. Our bridges,buildings, and houses would fail resulting in an extremely high death toll. We have never set our standards to this level. NC does have earthquakes but are small in scale. We set ourselves to current standards of tornados or hurricanes. Has any ours ever failed during these events? The NC nuclear power plants are safe.

  • Gab Mar 15, 2011

    I doubt our reactors could withstand a magnitude 9 either. Has Progress Energy even considered the possibility of high magnitude quake here? What are their preps for one? I'm still in favor of nuclear energy though.

  • Gab Mar 15, 2011

    I read somewhere this morning that the generators were in a basement that was flooded by the tsunami; apparently, they felt a seawall would protect them...

  • SaveEnergyMan Mar 15, 2011

    As I understand it, the Japanese plants have generators that were installed above the flood lines. However, the fuel was contaminated by the flood waters. This earthquake is certainly what the engineers should be designing for as "worst case". So far, there have been no major releases of radiation, which is the goal with kind of disaster.

    Each day that goes by without a breach reduces the chances. The need for cooling continues to decline because radioactive by-products in the core decay into more stable elements (and don't release heat). You can't simply flip off a nuclear plant.

  • Milkman Mar 15, 2011

    If we're going to use this event as an excuse to turn off our reactors and build no more, then I say we tear down every structure in the state that doesn't meet earthquake standards and rebuild it. Safety is safety, and an earthquake during a Hurricane's game or a Panther's game would kill lots of people.

    And think of the jobs that would be created if we were forced to tear down everything and rebuild!

  • hi_i_am_wade Mar 14, 2011

    Here is a fun fact. 1 banana has more radiation in it than the radiation people were exposed to after the Three Mile Island incident. A banana has so much radiation that in it that it can cause a radiation sensor to go off.

    In short, nuclear power is very very VERY safe. Modern reactors, not these old Westinghouse reactors like the ones at Three Mile Island and Japan and Shearin Harris, are even safer because they do not need backup power to maintain coolant. Even still, the old Westinghouse reactors are fundamentally different than the old Russian ones in that they are better and safer. The new reactors are also much more efficient. We need to build many more new reactors and replace the less efficient reactors, replace the bird-killing windmills, replace the terribly inefficient solar plants, and replace the coal power plants.

  • Keyboard Toughy Mar 14, 2011

    The ones in Japan (which were built in the early to mid 70's) were also built to sustain disasters... But as Japan's own government and top nuclear experts around the world have said, nuclear plants, (any structure for that matter), can't be built to sustain 8.9 earthquakes. Thanks for playing PE, now how about a press release stating you are looking into additional safety measures in the event of a large scale disaster. That might make us feel better.