By Charlotte Huffman and Derick Waller
HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – Neighbors in Holly Springs grilled federal regulators and Duke Energy executives at a nuclear safety forum Monday night.
More than 50 people attended, with many wanting to know why a quarter-inch flaw in a reactor at Harris Nuclear Plant went unnoticed for a year.
Last week, the southern Wake County plant was shut down after operators reviewing tests from last year rechecked the data and found tiny marks of corrosion and cracking that need repair.
“If there’s a crack in my roof I would repair it immediately,” Graham Baucom, of Holly Springs, said. “I put a high level of trust in big companies like Duke Energy. I would expect more from them than that.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hosted the forum Monday evening. The NRC inspects and monitors nuclear plants, and every year it holds an open house to answer questions from the public.
Charlotte-based Duke Energy took over the plant after its merger with Raleigh-based Progress Energy last summer. Some critics, like Jim Warren with climate change advocacy group NC Warn, says that timing is suspicious.
“I believe that if this had come out at the time, at the very delicate phase of the merger, I think it well could have scuttled that merger.”