SHIPPINGSPORT (KDKA) — A new list from Nuclear Regulatory Commission puts the nuclear power plant in Beaver County in the top five of those most at risk of being damaged during an earthquake.
But are we really at risk?
Beaver Valley’s Reactor No. 1 has been in operation since our country celebrated its bicentennial in 1976. Its sister reactor, Beaver Valley No. 2, went online 11 years later.
“They’re older reactors, but they are still safe reactors,” said Todd Schneider, a spokesperson for First Energy. “Before those plants are even built, the area is studied and research is done to determine what would be the largest earthquake to impact the area.”
The facility is then over designed.
Despite that, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission studied the odds of an earthquake causing a catastrophic failure at a nuclear power plant, Beaver Valley No. 1 was ranked the fifth worst in the country. Beaver Valley No. 2 is ranked 36th.
“The plant’s capable of withstanding at least a 5.8 Richter scale earthquake so there is really no need to be concerned about earthquakes in the area and their impact on the plant,” said Schneider.
First Energy and the Beaver County Emergency Management Office have been in daily contact since the Japanese disaster.
“It’s something you have to address and deal with and talk about,” said Wes Hill, the director of Beaver County Emergency Services.
Especially in light of the NRC report, which was completed last August.
“I was shocked to see that to tell you the truth,” said Hill. “You never really looked at that type of comparison of where you fall at for that type of disaster.”
“If we were to ever experience an earthquake that reached specific levels, we would simply shut the plant down before it became an issue,” Schneider said.
“We feel that our people are trained. The plans are in place, that we can react and respond on a normal day,” added Hill. “Again, when you throw that Mother Nature in there, you’ve got to be ready to go above and beyond that.”