State, federal officials hope for best, prepare for worst with Wake County nuclear plant

Wake County News

HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (WNCN) – Nuclear power is billed as a clean, efficient source of energy. However, the events at Three Mile Island and Fukashima serve as reminders of the drawbacks.

It’s a moment that many hope will never happen at Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant.

“In the event there were some situation, we would use sirens to warn the public,” said Tanya Hamilton with Duke Energy.

However, state and federal regulators have learned to plan for the worst-case scenario.

“We see it as our personal responsibility to make sure the community is protected,” said Hamilton.

Since the reactors went online in 1987, the growing population around the plant has continually thrown a wrench into those plans.

“When we look at margins of safety — and that’s what we really work in is continuous margins of safety — the public services offer tremendous margins of safety to us,” said Hamilton.

Growth around the plant may put stress on evacuation routes in the event of an actual emergency, but the infrastructure it provides could minimize the damage.

“The infrastructure has done a good job of keeping up with the growth in the area,” said Wake County Emergency Manager Josh Creighton. “Whether that’s your daily services for water, transportation services, school services, emergency services — all of it has kept up quite well.”

“We are always in a position to protect public health and safety,” added Hamilton.

“The requirements of this program are so high that it really sets the standard for all of our other programs,” said Creighton. “We use that to drive everything else.”

Hamilton and Creighton also said that, while the odds of an issue remain small, officials are ready in the event of an emergency. 

FEMA has until Aug. 2 to release their full report on Shearon Harris to the public.

Click here for tips on disaster preparation.

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