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Progress Energy officials say NC plants built to sustain disasters

Posted March 14, 2011 5:09 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2011 6:07 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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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