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I mean, what could possibly go wrong? This article doesn't mention where the company plans to inject their fracking waste, which is the practice that's now associated with triggering seismic activity. As long as it's legal under laws written back in 1979 doesn't mean common sense has to enter into the decision to do what they want near a nuclear power plant. After all, if they do trigger an earthquake that damages the plant and contaminates the area, it probably won't be the frackers who will pick up the cost of dealing with it. They'll declare bankruptcy and walk away:
Chesapeake has a permit to frack one mile from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pa. Whether that is cause for alarm, experts can’t say.
But one thing is for sure -- in the midst of the Marcellus boom, drilling companies are going to keep fracking, pockmarking the earth with their mile-deep wells, blasting away at the subterranean feature that is the Marcellus shale.
As the fracking continues, does anyone, driller or geologist, know what really lies beneath the surface? Does the improbability of seismic activity as a result of fracking become more likely as more wells are drilled?
The new permit granted to Chesapeake is located 1.06 miles from FirstEnergy Corp. nuclear facility in Shippingport. According to DEP records, the permit for an unconventional well was issued to Chesapeake on Oct. 3. Drilling has not yet started.
DEP spokesperson John Poister said there are no required setbacks specifically relating to a required distance between unconventional wells and nuclear facilities, just a blanket regulation requiring a 500-foot setback from any building to an unconventional well.
With more than a mile setback distance, the newly permitted well would be well within the state’s regulations. But Poister did say he is not aware of any other nuclear power station located in an area where shale drilling is occurring.
According to Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the NRC issued a Regulatory Guide in 1979 to help the industry review potential nuclear sites. But this code didn’t allow for changes in sites that might occur over time --such as the Marcellus shale and resulting fracking boom in Pennsylvania.
[...] And seismic activity has been a growing concern for nuclear facilities following the earthquake damage last year to the Fukushima reactor complex in Japan. A 2010 NRC report found that Unit 1 at the Beaver Valley Power Station was ranked the fifth-most vulnerable nuclear reactor in the nation to earthquake damage. FirstEnergy officials said in a past interview that the plant is built to withstand 5.8-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale. The strongest earthquake registered in Pennsylvania was 5.2 on the Richter scale.
Sheehan pointed out that there is seismic analysis before any nuclear power plant in the United States is designed and built.
“The review looks at the most significant historical earthquake in the area, with the plant then constructed to withstand that, with additional margin on top of that,” he said. “I can also tell you that we are now -- as part of our post-Fukushima reviews --requiring all plants to perform fresh seismic evaluations. These new assessments will take advantage of advanced modeling and improved data available since the time the plants were built.”
But earthquakes caused by fracking injection wells are a new and relatively unpredictable phenomena. So excuse me if I'm not reassured.
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