A natural gas well that will be hydraulically fractured or fracked is planned one mile from FirstEnergy Corp.’s Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in western Pennsylvania, but the Akron-based utility is not concerned.
"We’re not aware of any potential impacts and don’t expect any," said FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young today. "We see no reason to be particularly concerned."
The issue came to light on Friday when the Pennsylvania-based blog, Shale Reporter, outlined plans for the well by Chesapeake Energy Corp., the Oklahoma-based energy giant.
That story said experts can’s say if the proposed well so close to two nuclear power plants is cause for concern.
On Oct. 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Agency approved a permit for the well, to be located 1.06 miles from the Beaver Valley plant at Shippingport, Pa. Drilling has not yet started.
DEP spokesperson John Poister told the Shale Reporter that there are no required setbacks specifically relating to a required distance between such shale wells and nuclear facilities, just a blanket regulation requiring a 500-foot setback from any building to a natural gas well.
Poister said he doesn’t believe there are geological concerns regarding fracking near the nuclear site.
With more than a mile setback distance, the newly permitted well would comply with state’s regulations.
Poister said he is not aware of any other nuclear power station located in an area where shale drilling is occurring.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson Neil Sheehan said agency regulations focus only on operations within the nuclear site, the Shale Reporter said.
"Our regulations do not speak to off-site wells," he said. "Our focus is on on-site activities."
Earthquakes have been linked to injection wells, not production wells like the Beaver Valley well, in Youngstown and other locations including Arkansas and Texas. The largest Youngstown quake was a 4.0-magnitude.
Sheehan said there is seismic analysis before any nuclear power plant in the United States is designed and built.
FirstEnergy officials have said the Beaver Valley plants were built to withstand a 5.8-magnitude earthquake.
The strongest quake ever recorded in Pennsylvania is a 5.2-magnitude.
For more information, go to the Shale Reporter at www.shalereporter.com.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.