Engineering Report Raises Significant Safety Concerns With Greenfield Nuclear Site Proposed by Exelon

Active Geologic Growth Faults and Unprecedented Level of Oil & Gas Exploration Pose Significant Safety Risks at Proposed Victoria Co., TX Site

Dec 28, 2010, 10:02 ET from Texans for a Sound Energy Policy

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 28, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Texans for a Sound Energy Policy (TSEP) released the results of an engineering analysis that identifies serious safety risks with investor-owned utility Exelon's proposed site for a nuclear power plant south of Victoria, Texas.  The engineering analysis, conducted by Colorado-based engineering firm, Halepaska & Associates, Inc., cites the presence of active geologic faults and an unprecedented number of both active and abandoned oil and gas wells on the site as significant safety concerns that render the site unsuitable for construction of a nuclear power plant.

The safety hazards with the site identified in the report include:

  • The presence of active geologic growth faults underlying the cooling pond and important plant infrastructure that pose significant and unacceptable stability risks to the site; and
  • The presence of an unprecedented number of active and abandoned oil & gas wells on the site (with over 100 known abandoned wells on the site) that poses significant risks of explosion, releases of hydrogen sulfide and other poisonous gases, and surface and water contamination—including potential Tritium contamination.

TSEP attorney Jim Blackburn commented, "TSEP has performed this analysis to bring to light facts that demonstrate clear and compelling safety risks associated with Exelon's proposed site that are obscured by a licensing process that does not provide the public with a clear understanding of these risks.  The risks that we have identified are much greater than suggested in Exelon's public filings, and we believe that the public has a right to this information."

While Exelon has attempted to downplay the significance of its pursuit of an Early Site Permit for the Victoria County site on the grounds that no decision on whether to build will be made until some time in the future, Blackburn notes that, "Once these critical site safety and environmental determinations are made, they are binding on the NRC when Exelon goes to apply for a license to construct and operate a nuclear power plant.  Make no mistake about it, this is a critical decision point."

Of the 65 sites in the nation hosting 104 licensed commercial reactors, Exelon's proposed Victoria County site, if approved by the NRC, would be:

  • The only greenfield site approved under the largely untested Early Site Permit process;
  • the only site with active geologic growth faults showing evidence of current fault movement at the surface; and
  • the only site with such an unprecedented level of abandoned oil & gas wells on the site (with over 100 known abandoned well bores).

Steve Lange, a senior scientist with the engineering firm that performed the site analysis, observes, "Based on our analysis, it is my opinion that this proposed site is a real outlier from a site safety standpoint.  Standing alone, the presence of either active growth faults under critical site infrastructure or such an unprecedented level of oil & gas exploration would raise significant safety concerns.  When you have both of these risks together on one site, this site is simply unsuitable as a location for a nuclear power plant in my professional opinion."

TSEP's analysis demonstrates that there are significant potential site safety hazards associated with Exelon's proposed Victoria County site, and more troublingly that Exelon seeks a binding resolution of these issues without having adequately investigated these potential site hazards.

Blackburn, who plans to further pursue these issues at the NRC on TSEP's behalf sums it up as follows:  "This site courts disaster on safety grounds alone, and that's before you even get to the significant water, endangered species and other environmental issues with the site."

Texans for a Sound Energy Policy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded as a public service by various family members and entities associated with the original D. M. O'Connor Ranches of Texas.

SOURCE Texans for a Sound Energy Policy