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Harris Nuclear Plant in Wake County


Harris nuclear plant has been operating continuously since 1987. It features one Westinghouse-designed pressurized water reactor, cooled by Harris Lake, an established county park and popular fishing spot in southwestern Wake County.

Nuclear plants produce energy without emitting climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions. They are one of the few significant power sources that do not contribute to climate change, yet even proponents acknowledge they produce some emissions.


Since Shearon Harris began operating thirty years ago, its surrounding area has experienced rapid expansion. Today, a 10-mile radius encompassing Westinghouse’s pressurized water reactor contains close to 200,000 people; new homes and subdivisions continue to appear near it as quickly as they can be constructed.

Duke Energy takes excellent care to ensure the safe operation of their facility. Their Environmental Radiation Monitoring Department conducts regular tests of soil, water, and agricultural samples to make sure there is no environmental impact from their plant while performing regular emergency exercises to help prepare employees and the public in case an incident should arise.

If an accident were to occur, federal, state, and local authorities would alert the public through their communication channels. They may activate pole-mounted sirens throughout their 10-mile EPZ station to warn people to evacuate or shelter in place.

As part of its evacuation planning effort, Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant has divided their EPZ into zones based on population density. Residents can use the map to locate their zone and consult specific instructions. They can also find their nearest reception center/evacuation shelter and plan an evacuation route. For more information, visit the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant website.

Environmental Issues

Nuclear plants do not release heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like fossil fuel plants but emit radiation via reactor stacks, pipes, and other parts. According to research from N.C., radiation pollution poses just as significant a risk to health as carbon emissions from fossil fuels. State University grad Joseph Mangano, who specializes in low-level radiation effects.

Mangano works for a national environmental and public health group that documents evidence linking low-level radiation exposure with problems like infant mortality and cancer. Her evidence led U.S. senators to give the government an “F” grade on nuclear security last week, prompting the Government Accountability Office to investigate how well it oversees all 103 nuclear power plants nationwide.

Nuclear plants emit toxic, radioactive pollution into the environment through accidents and system failures at Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant, polluting soil and water miles away. Pollutants like cesium-137, iodine-131, and strontium-90 produced by reactors or bombs may contaminate soil and water supplies over an expansive radius around their source; other chemicals produced include cesium-137, tritium, and form of helium that combines with oxygen to form deadly uranium dioxide – fatal to our health!

Like its four counterparts run by CP&L, the Shearon Harris nuclear plant contains two operating reactors and an on-site storage pool for used nuclear fuel. If water leaks from one or both collections, an explosion may erupt, making large areas of North Carolina uninhabitable.

Shearon Harris armed guards who raised concerns about their employer’s lax security describe an environment focused on cutting costs that have led to shortcuts in safety and maintenance practices. One guard alleged a supervisor allowed him to open doors without using keys in a secure area of the plant, and an in-house NRC inspector did not request an inspection of all entries in their plant.

Armed guards want the National Regulatory Commission, FBI, and state Department of Labor to investigate their allegations against Progress Energy plants in the Raleigh area. Their complaint has also been sent to U.S. House members representing Raleigh and Gov. Mike Easley for consideration.

Health Issues

If there’s ever an emergency at the plant, sirens will sound. Additionally, potassium iodide will be distributed within 10 miles to protect the thyroid from radiation exposure. For those living nearby, it might be wise to purchase a battery-operated radio to monitor events; also, ensure all your medical records are with you so they won’t become lost should something occur and assist if something goes amiss.

The book illustrates that miscommunication was one of the primary factors in TMI’s demise, with some reading a reading of 1,200 millirems (12 mSv) as being indicative of an explosion and total meltdown, when that wasn’t the case due to people making telephone calls without knowing its status and making mistakes due to limited cooperation among state and federal agencies.

By its very nature, this accident exposed several other severe issues with Progress Energy’s infrastructure. Notably, Thermo-Lag was an aged form of electrical cable that may be more prone to fire than newer types, further exacerbated by Hymec becoming inoperable after its manufacturer falsified testing data.

An additional significant problem was a communication breakdown between control room personnel and reactor operators due to an error in instrumentation design, which did not accurately depict relief valve movements opening and closing, leaving operators unaware of the actual situation even though they believed the valve had closed – leading to loss of coolant water as reactor began cooling down as well as prevent operators from realizing reactor was unusable and taking steps to shut it down; had operators understood correctly about the situation the accident would have been much more devastating.