Progress Energy is beginning its quest for a 20-year extension to operate its nuclear plant in southern Wake County.
During that two-year process, nuclear critics plan to focus on terrorism and other potential dangers posed by the build-up of nuclear waste at the Shearon Harris plant.
The relicensing hearings by law must focus on the environmental impacts of a plant as it ages and its safety components. Critics want that focus to expand so it includes the growing risks of stockpiling radioactive waste near the country's major population centers.
Shearon Harris is about 20 miles southwest of Raleigh.
Progress Energy spokesman Rick Kimble says the pools at Shearon Harris are as safe as ``any storage facility known to man.''
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission holds the first meeting of the two-year licensing process Wednesday in Apex, a suburb of Raleigh.