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Earthquakes could affect Beaver Valley nuke plant more than first thought

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Earthquakes could affect the Beaver Valley Power Station more than engineers thought when they built the plant's two nuclear reactors in the 1970s, according to a review that regulators ordered because of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The initial review completed this spring found no reason for immediate concern at the plant in Shippingport, owner FirstEnergy Corp. said.

The company has until the end of the year to determine if it should make safety changes while it completes a more detailed analysis of whether the plant and equipment can withstand the higher level of potential ground movement, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

“We don't expect to have to make any modifications,” said FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young. She said the plant was built with a safety margin to withstand ground-shaking above estimates.

The commission in 2012 ordered nuclear plant operators to use updated data from agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey to re-evaluate seismic hazards because of the disaster that an earthquake and tsunamis caused in Japan. Young said the data included newly discovered faults and calculations on potential hazards of known faults.

Operators in the eastern and central parts of the country had to submit initial reviews by March 31. Those reviews found the need for further study at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Peach Bottom in York County and at plants in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the NRC said.

The agency said it conducted seismic inspections at all plants immediately after Fukushima.

David Conti is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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