SCANA: Jenkinsville nuclear site safe

VC Summer Nuclear Plant in Jenkinsville / SCANA

CAYCE (WACH, AP) -- SCE&G addressed concerns Tuesday about its nuclear site in light of serious problems with reactors in Japan following the massive earthquake and tsunami.

SCANA, the parent company of SCE&G, had several officials on hand to answer any questions when it comes to safety and issues related to the nuclear power plant it operates in Jenkinsville.

"I haven't seen anything that would cause me to have concern about our plant or our two new plants," said SCANA Chairman and CEO Bill Timmerman.

Company officials say the Jenkinsville plant and a proposed multi-billion dollar expansion project is designed to withstand an earthquake. Seismic experts at Tuesday's briefing said there are faults in South Carolina that can produce a 7.0 magnitude quake but, none that could unleash a situation like the one Japan experienced.

Also, the SCE&G plant has a different design than those in Japan. The Jenkinsville site is a pressurized water reactor, not a boiling water reactor like the ones in Japan. However, officials say they'll learn from the disaster.

"We'll be looking at the events in Japan making sure that if there are lessons learned for us here in the States that we can gain from, we'll take advantage of that," explains Chief Nuclear Officer Jeffrey Archie.

Reports also say the problems overseas are not from the initial quake, but from the tsunami waves which will never be seen here in the Midlands.

SCE&G plans to build two new reactors, with the approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which hasn't licensed a new nuclear plant in decades.

The company expects the first reactor to be on-line in 2016 with the second starting to operate in 2019.

Read more Nuclear official: Spent fuel storage pool may boil Critics say nuclear meltdown could happen here Blast at Japan nuke plant after quake and tsunami

Critics of nuclear programs in South Carolina says what happened in Japan could happen here on home soil.

Tom Clements, with Friends of the Earth, says the Japanese incident highlights the fact that South Carolina and the United States should slow the push for nuclear power as a main source of energy. "We need to look for energy efficiency and conservation in a vigorous way, while at the same time pursuing more decentralized sources like solar and wind imported from the Midwest," said Clements.

Stocks in SCANA, the Palmetto State's only Fortune 500 company, have dropped significantly since Friday's disaster in Japan.

Some speculate the Japanese disaster will lead to more federal oversight in the United States as people look to build more nuclear power plants. The impact of the disaster is still unclear. On Tuesday, SCANA CEO Bill Timmerman said they will move forward with their power plans.

To help aid relief efforts in Japan, click here to get a full list of organizations that you can contribute to.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)