NC Nuclear Plant: Lessons Learned After Japan Disaster

The earthquake-tsunami combination in Japan that lead to an explosion that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March sparked concern about the structural soundness of nuclear energy here.

Southeastern Carolina is home to a plant that harnesses that same power.

Clayton Bauman went to Brunswick county to talk to plant officials and the community about living with nuclear power.

It was a fight that no one had planned for on such a scale. A nuclear crisis elevated to the highest level at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following an earthquake produced tsunami in Japan. They are the images that spawned questions and concerns about our own nuclear infrastructure and just how safe we are living with nuclear energy.

You'd be hard pressed to find those overly concerned here in Southport, North Carolina- home of Progress Energy's 2-unit 1875 megawatt Brunswick nuclear power plant.

"I suppose with all that has been going on in Japan that we think about the safety and the regulations that they follow, but it is something that we live with every day and we don't seem to be concerned on a regular basis," said Southport resident Mark Deese.

"We don't have tsunamis. We don't have earthquakes. So there's very little fear of anything happening. It's incredibly well built. It's amazing how well built, and most of it's underground," said Southport resident
Jim Kenny.

For those that were concerned, the plant immediately sprang into action organizing meetings with local leaders like Boiling Spring Lakes City Manager David Lewis.

"They explained what they thought had happened in Japan and where the incident occurred and how this plant differs in relationship to that design and what safety precautions they take here- very thorough- took a lot of time answered our questions." said Lewis.

"The Fukushima- we're following that very closely because we want to make sure we learn from that and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a similar event here." said Manager of Design Engineering John Titrington.

From increased security to monitoring mother nature- the manager of design engineering says maintaining structural integrity no matter what the threat is a priority.

"We look at the wind speeds and also air borne missiles that come from a tornado and we're designed to withstand that, but again we constantly- as information comes in from actual hurricanes or earthquakes or tornadoes- we look at that and see if there's something we need to do to make us even safer." said Titrington

Every year the plant issues a pamphlet addressing any safety concerns that the community might have.

"That really explains in detail the procedures that we go by our emergency preparedness processes- how we communicate to local government agencies and then what they should be prepared for in the unlikely event that there was some sort of event that occurred--that effected the plant," said plant spokesman Ryan Mosier.

Some of the most important outreach the plant says it does is with local schools-citing that the students will one day be taking the reins.

"It makes good business sense for us to hire local people to work here--and as our workforce--you know many of us are reaching retirement--we're looking to hire young people and train them." said Titrington.

"We have numerous jobs that it creates here so it's very important from the standpoint that we have folks that live here--work there--they're good citizen community--pay a lot of taxes so it's been a very good relationship back and forth," said Lewis.

The Brunswick nuclear power plant sits around 143 miles south from Greenville. A little over 82 miles from Jacksonville. And 121 miles from New Bern.

The plant was founded in 1975 and employs around 1,000 people. Titrington says the plant produces around 20% of the energy output by Progress Energy which spans Eastern Carolina and the northern part of South Carolina.

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  • by Nuke Navy Location: Greedyville on May 15, 2011 at 03:14 PM
    I was a strong proponent for nuclear energy, however, since the Japan's disaster. I think that the only nuclear energy use should be for our Navy subs and carriers. Folks 250,000 years for a half life is a long wait to visit Wilmington again. Adm. Rickover would be someone to ask about civilian use. But, unfortunately he is deceased.
  • by say wha? on May 14, 2011 at 06:36 AM
    The southpot plant unlike the Japan's is built directly ON the fault line - Just because it hasnt had a major event in 100 years means nothing. I just want to know who the clowns were that thought it was a good location ?

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