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Residents near Wake nuclear plant take precautions

Posted March 14, 2011
Updated March 15, 2011

The Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill
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— As Japan battles fears of a radiation leak from nuclear reactors after an earthquake and tsunami ravaged the region Friday, people locally are considering the dangers of nuclear power in their own backyards.

The Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, for example, has been supplying power to its customers for more than two decades. There are safety precautions on site and in the many communities that surround the facility in southwestern Wake County, and residents say they are comfortable with that.

"There's lots of cities and towns that are close to (nuclear plants)," said Bettina Galarneau, who lives near the plant. "I grew up 20 miles from another location, so it's a clean energy. I'm not too concerned about it."

If a major accident were to happen at Shearon Harris, the state would oversee shelters, evacuations and the administration of potassium iodide tablets, according to state health officials.

"Potassium iodide is basically a salt tablet," said Amanda Fuller Moore, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Division of Health. "It prevents the thyroid from taking in radioactive idodine."

Residents near Holly Springs nuclear plant take precautions Residents near Holly Springs nuclear plant take precautions

The small, white pills are given to people within a 10-mile radius of the plant and are used only in extreme cases, Moore said.

"It would take a really large meltdown and breach in order for us to advise people to take potassium iodide," she said.

Tim Richards, who has lived near Shearon Harris for 14 years, keeps the pills on hand as a precaution, but health officials said they should only be taken in an emergency.

"You want to be safe. So, if the one thing happens we don't think is going to, we take the iodide pills and drive," Richards said.

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  • Justin T. Mar 16, 2011

    "I grew up 20 miles from another location, so it's a clean energy. I'm not too concerned about it."

    --Me too! Thanks for that 3rd arm, Shearon Harris... it allows me to multitask on a whole new level.

  • gunny462 Mar 15, 2011

    Oops my bad, the rods melt and the 'pellets' burn.

  • gunny462 Mar 15, 2011

    Please bear in mind that the leaks in Jpan are NOT from the containment areas. Why is this important? Think Chernobyl. Japans containment is set to melt at 9000 degrees, rods burn at 3000-4000. Chernobyl did not have a containment area which is why they had a cloud and the rods melted through the ground. I believe the standard in the U.S is the same one used in Japan. IF the containments in 2, 3 and 4 were breached then start to worry for the Japanese.

    Also, someone asked why they don't do disaster response here at Shearon Harris and let locals see it.. Why would we want to 'show' our response capabilities or allow outside ppl in to view them, as someone stated it is on terrorists hit lists.

    Take your P-tabs if you want but maybe a shot of something else to calm your nerves would be better ;)

  • mpheels Mar 15, 2011

    Since 1952, there have only been 16 events considered disasters at nuclear power plants worldwide. Nearly 60 years, 439 reactors, and only 16 disasters (disaster defined as deaths and/or $100+ million in damage). Of those 16, only 4 resulted in loss of human life (to date, does not include current concerns in Japan). Of the 4 deadly disasters, Cherobyl is the only disaster involving the death of a civilian who wasn't working at the site of the disaster. All other deaths caused by nuclear power plant incidents were either workers at the plant or police/fire responders to the event.

  • flyingcheetah92 Mar 15, 2011

    K Watson: First of all at Three Mile Island the disaster had nothing to do with the generators and the generators did not play a role in the catastrophe, and secondly while you are right about the fact that most issues are not caused by earthquakes, they have also been with very few exceptions well handled and not harmful to the public. There is no reason to try and cause people stress when there is no precedent for it.

  • freedjo Mar 15, 2011

    Dr. James Acton, a nuclear physicist from Carnegie Endowment was just interviewed on Andrea Mitchell's show. He pointed out that our US nuclear power plants are not necessarily designed and/or built to withstand the effects from flood, tornado, or other natural disasters. It worries me that people don't think further than earthquakes causing damage. Here, on this site, and also on others, over the past few days many writers have commented on the fact that they don't live in earthquake "zones" so therefore don't need to be concerned about nuclear safety. People need to understand that earthquakes are not the only reason for nuclear failure as clearly indicated by some of the world's nuclear power plant disasters (and problems) that were not caused by earthquake.

    Dr. Action mentioned that Japan takes safety very seriously (IMO probably much more seriously than we do) and as we all know, even their safety standards could not salvage their reactors nor contain the radiation. Clearly

  • TheDude abides... Mar 15, 2011

    Are these geniuses waiting for a Tsunami or an Earthquake?!

    Gots to be dedicated followers of our great "nanny state"

  • baracus Mar 15, 2011

    I guess I fail to see how this article is promoting hysteria or such. There probably are some people wondering about Shearon Harris. The article points out that most people aren't worried and in the unlikely event that something happened there are response plans in place.

  • katwatsonnumber1 Mar 15, 2011

    People who are concerned about earthquakes causing problems in local nuclear power plants are missing the point. Wake up. The majority of disasters at nuclear power plants were NOT caused by earthquakes. They were caused by a variety of other problems. Feeling safe about this is an easy way to ignore the true threat. K Watson

  • jamesdevlin Mar 15, 2011

    you guys keep putting Progress Energy (now Duke), It wont become Duke till the sale closes late this year or early next year.

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