SCE&G officials say their companys nuclear plant in Fairfield County was built to be safe during earthquakes and is in better position to withstand natural disasters than the aging atomic reactors that have begun to fail in Japan.
The companys plant near Jenkinsville, licensed in 1982, has a different design than the ones in Japan, making the South Carolina plant able to provide vital cooling water to the reactor in the event of an emergency. Water is essential to keep nuclear fuel from overheating. The SCE&G plant is a pressurized water reactor, as opposed to boiling water reactors in Japan.
During a news conference Tuesday morning, company executives said two new plants proposed at the Fairfield site will be designed to keep cooling water circulating during emergencies. A major concern in Japan was the loss of power, which made it difficult to cool nuclear fuel. That is being blamed more on a tsunami that followed the massive quake, rather than the quake itself, SCE&G officials said.
William Timmerman, SCE&Gs chairman and chief executive officer, said the tragedy such as were seeing in Japan right now is not only highly unlikely here, but
. the plants we have and the plants that were in the process of building are of a substantially safer design.
Timmerman said it was uncertain if the Japanese accident would drive up costs of the two new nuclear plants or delay the licensing process. The first of SCE&Gs two plants would go on line in 2016, according to company plans.