Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant

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Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant
Shearon Harris Unit 1.jpg
Shearon Harris Unit 1
Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant is located in North Carolina
Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant
Location of Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant
Country United States of America
Location New Hill, Buckhorn Township, Wake County, North Carolina
Coordinates 35°38.0′N 78°57.3′W / 35.6333°N 78.9550°W / 35.6333; -78.9550Coordinates: 35°38.0′N 78°57.3′W / 35.6333°N 78.9550°W / 35.6333; -78.9550
Status Operational
Commission date May 2, 1987
Construction cost $3.9 billion
Operator(s) Progress Energy
Nuclear power station
Reactor supplier Westinghouse
Power generation
Units operational 1 x 900 MW
Units planned 2 x 1,100 MW
Nameplate capacity 900 MW
Annual generation 7,404 GWh
Website
Progress Energy Harris Plant

The Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant with a single Westinghouse designed pressurized-water nuclear reactor operated by Duke Energy. It was named in honor of W. Shearon Harris, former president of Carolina Power & Light (predecessor of Progress Energy).[1] Located in New Hill, North Carolina, in the United States, about 20 miles (30 km) southwest of Raleigh, it generates 900 MWe, has a 523 foot (160 m) natural draft cooling tower, and uses Harris Lake for cooling. The reactor achieved criticality in January 1987 and began providing power commercially on May 2 of that year.

The Shearon Harris site was originally designed for four reactors, but budget issues and weak demand resulted in three of the reactors being cancelled. The final cost was nearly $3.9B, which includes the cost of safety upgrades mandated after the Three Mile Island accident.

On November 16, 2006, the operator applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a renewal and extension of the plant's operating license.[2] The NRC granted the renewal on December 17, 2008, extending the license from forty years to sixty.[3]

Surrounding population[edit]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[4]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Shearon Harris was 96,401, an increase of 62.6 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for msnbc.com. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 2,562,573, an increase of 26.0 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Raleigh (21 miles to city center), Durham (24 miles to city center), Fayetteville (39 miles to city center).[5]

Units 2 & 3[edit]

On February 19, 2008 Progress filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL). It seeks to build two 1,100 MWe Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors. Although the NRC has already certified the AP1000 design, the application review is expected to take about 36 months. The new reactors would not be operational before 2018.[6]

Expansion of the plant will require raising the water level of Harris Lake by 20 feet,[7] decreasing the size of Wake County's largest park, with the Cape Fear River as a backup water source.

On January 22, 2010 officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the electrical generator from the damaged Unit 2 reactor at Three Mile Island will be used at Shearon Harris.[8] The generator was refurbished and installed during a refueling outage in November, 2010.

On May 2, 2013, Duke submitted a request to the NRC to suspend review of the Harris Units 2 and 3 Combined License Application (COLA), effectively halting further development of this project.[9] Duke has determined the forecast operating dates of the proposed reactors falls outside the fifteen-year planning horizon utilized by state regulators in their demonstration of need evaluation. The COLA remains docketed, however, leaving the door open for Duke to restart activities.[10]

Controversy[edit]

The anti-nuclear group "N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network" (NC-WARN) believes that Shearon Harris' safety and security record is insufficient, and questions whether it is the most dangerous nuclear plant in the US.[11][12] However, the plant's technical and security systems have passed all Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) standards[13] as of 2008, including protection and security, and no worker or area resident has been injured as a result of the plant's operation.

In 2010, Project Censored, a non-profit, investigative journalism project, ranked the safety issues at Shearon Harris the 4th most under-reported story of the year, because of the risk of fires at what are the largest spent-fuel pools in the country:[14]

Between 1999 and 2003, there were twelve major problems requiring the shutdown of the plant. According to the NRC, the national average for commercial reactors is one shutdown per eighteen months. Congressman David Price of North Carolina sent the NRC a report by scientists at MIT and Princeton that pinpointed the waste pools as the biggest risk at the plant. "Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly and catch fire," wrote Bob Alvarez, a former advisor to the Department of Energy and co-author of the report. "The fire could well spread to older fuel. The long-term land contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than Chernobyl."

In August 2007, NC WARN dropped a lawsuit against Progress Energy that was intended to delay or prevent expansion of Shearon Harris, claiming that continuing the legal battle would cost at least $200,000.[15]

Seismic risk[edit]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Shearon Harris was 1 in 434,783, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[16][17]

Shutdown[edit]

On May 16, 2013, Shearon Harris Unit 1 initiated an unplanned shutdown when reviews of ultrasonic data from a maintenance shutdown in spring 2012 determined a 1/4" crack was inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel Head.[18] The crack is attributed to water stress corrosion cracking. Due to high radiation levels, the repairs will require complete robotic repair. Outside specialists will likely be used to perform this work.

Reactor data[edit]

The Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant consists of one operational reactor. Three additional units were cancelled. Two new additional reactors are planned.

Reactor unit[19] Reactor type Capacity Construction started Electricity grid connection Commercial operation Shutdown
Net Gross
Shearon Harris-1 Westinghouse 3-loop 900 MW 960 MW 28 January 1978 19 January 1987 2 May 1987
Shearon Harris-2[20] Westinghouse 3-loop 900 MW 960 MW 1 January 1978 Cancelled construction on 1 December 1983
Shearon Harris-3[21] Westinghouse 3-loop 900 MW 960 MW 1 January 1978 Cancelled construction on 1 December 1981
Shearon Harris-4[22] Westinghouse 3-loop 900 MW 960 MW 1 January 1978 Cancelled construction on 1 December 1981
Shearon Harris-2 (planned)[23] AP1000 1117 MW MW
Shearon Harris-3 (planned)[22] AP1000 1117 MW MW

References[edit]

  1. ^ NC Business Hall of Fame: William Shearon Harris
  2. ^ "Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant - License Renewal Application". Operating Reactor Licensing. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  3. ^ "Shearon Harris operating licence extended". World Nuclear News. December 18, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  4. ^ http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/emerg-plan-prep-nuc-power-bg.html
  5. ^ Bill Dedman, Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors, msnbc.com, April 14, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42555888/ns/us_news-life/ Accessed May 1, 2011.
  6. ^ "Submission for new nuclear at Harris". World Nuclear News. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  7. ^ Murawski, John (2007-09-20). "Progress prepares for new reactors". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved 2007-10-18. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Three Mile Island generator moving to Shearon Harris". WRAL. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  9. ^ (ref: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1312/ML13123A344.pdf )
  10. ^ (press coverage: http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/power_city/2013/05/duke-energy-suspends-licensing-for.html )
  11. ^ The Most Dangerous U.S. N-Plant? NRC's Dishonest Rating System
  12. ^ Sturgis, Sue (2006-03-29). "The Report is Bullshit". The Independent Weekly. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  13. ^ NRC Performance Summary, 1Q 2008
  14. ^ Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina
  15. ^ Murawski, John (2007-08-21). "Nuclear license fight dropped". Raleigh News & Observer. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  16. ^ Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk," msnbc.com, March 17, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42103936/ Accessed April 19, 2011.
  17. ^ Patrick Hiland (September 2, 2010). "Implications of Updated Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Estimates in Central and Eastern United States on Existing Plants". Safety/Risk Assessment Panel for Generic Issue 199. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Murawski, John (2013-05-16). "Shearon Harris nuclear power plant shutdown because of cracking". The News & Observer. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  19. ^ Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: United States of America: Nuclear Power Reactors- Alphabetic
  20. ^ Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: Nuclear Power Reactor Details - SHEARON HARRIS-2
  21. ^ Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: Nuclear Power Reactor Details - SHEARON HARRIS-3
  22. ^ a b Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: Nuclear Power Reactor Details - SHEARON HARRIS-4
  23. ^ Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: Nuclear Power Reactor Details - SHEARON HARRIS-3

External links[edit]