A nuclear power plant located near Hartsville, South Carolina is at risk for being shut down, according to a research study conducted at the Vermont Law School. However, the plant has a license to operate until 2030 and operators Duke Energy say they have no plans to retire it early.
Maintaining older nuclear power plants can be very expensive. So much so that plants in California (San Onofre) Wisconsin and Florida have been shut down or are slated for retirement. These kinds of plants generate tremendous amounts of energy, but repair costs and decreasing costs of other forms of power are causing them to be seen as increasingly unfavorable. (Also, a plan for a new, smaller nuclear plant in Iowa was called off.)
The alarming events at Fukushima were probably a sentinel call for the public to wake up to perils associated with aging reactors. Actually, the whole history of problems linked to such power plants including at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl might be influencing the overall attitude towards them.
The plant at Hartsville had two fires a while back and a shutdown. While the plant might be safe in its structures and technology, human error is still a factor at any nuclear plant, and the consequences can be very significant. There is also a chance – albeit a very tiny one – that terrorists could take over a nuclear plant and try to release radiation into the environment in an urban area where there are many residents. Additionally, a plane could be flow into a plant with the goal of setting off explosions and starting fires in order to also release radiation. These scenarios are extremely unlikely, but so was 911 before it happened.
The H. B. Robinson Nuclear Power Plant employs one Westinghouse 735 MW pressurized water reactor. There are nearly 900,000 people living within about 50 miles of it. Of course, there are also many domesticated and wild animals in the area as well.
Alternative energy seems to be frowned upon by South Carolina’s energy providers. It has been reported that they also have a monopoly on energy production there.
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