Fracking and Injection Wells Point to Possible Risks to the Plant
Vistra, formerly known as Luminant, has applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20-year renewal for its Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Glen Rose. The current 40-year license for Units 1 and 2 expires in 2030 and 2033 respectively. Unit 1 started operations in 1990 with Unit 2 beginning operations in 1993.
After much complaint regarding problems surrounding a virtual public meeting held weeks ago, the NRC has agreed to hold an in person public meeting this Thursday , February 23rd from 7-9 pm at the Somervell County Expo Center at 202 Bo Gibbs Boulevard off West Highway 67 in Glen Rose. The NRC will take comments from the public at this time regarding this 20-year permit renewal. An open house will precede the public comment at 6 pm at the same location.
Those persons to be considered as “affected persons” by the NRC include those that live within a 50-mile radius of the plant. This radius includes portions of those that live in the metropolitan areas of Ft. Worth, Arlington, and Grand Prairie. If something significant happens to the structural integrity of this plant, the results could be catastrophic.
The renewal application for Comanche Peak can be found at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML2227/ML22276A082.pdf. Within the application, one will find more than 70 instances where Vistra’s own review noted that “Further Evaluation” is “Recommended” regarding cracking, component fatigue, erosion of material, etc., of components within the plant. These components included pipes, the foundation, structural supports, the dome, and more.
Liveable Arlington was able to obtain a map of oil and gas wells near the plant. Within a 20-mile radius, there are more than 1400 active or permitted wells. Within a 50-mile radius, there were more than 5000 wells.
Vistra has listed earthquakes greater with magnitudes of 3 or more within their permit application from 18 miles to several hundred miles away. Lower magnitude earthquakes have occurred approximately 20 to 30-miles from the plant, in close succession, probably indicating seismic activity due to the deep injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations.
The NRC would do well to examine the relationship of fracking, wastewater injection, and the risks of seismic activity in relation to the structural integrity of the aging Comanche Peak plant as oil and gas activity ramps up in the Barnett Shale. After all, it appears that the plant has already admitted to cracking and the material erosion of various components within its own application.
If granted, the license would extend its Unit 1 and 2 operations till 2050 and 2053 respectively, making Units 1 and 2 almost 60 years old upon license expiration.
What is known now about injection and seismic activity was not known in the 80s and 90s when this plant and its neighboring dam was being constructed. Activity in the Barnett Shale is ramping up. With more drilling comes more deep injection. The NRC should closely examine the possible consequences of earthquakes on this plant’s structural integrity, as often with the increase in injection, so goes the frequency and magnitude of seismic activity.