Beaver Valley Power Station, Shippingport, Pennsylvania
The Beaver Valley Power Plant is a two-unit nuclear power plant located in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. It is operated by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company. Unit 1 is jointly owned by Pennsylvania Power Company and Ohio Edison Company, while ownership of Unit 2 is divided among 4 different companies, primarily Ohio Edison Company and Toledo Edison Company.
The Beaver Valley Power Station first went online in 1976; Unit 2 was completed and went online in 1987. The two units have a combined capacity for producing 1,738 megawatts of electricity. Both units have pressurized water reactors.
Nuclear Power’s Environmental Impact
Nuclear power has been a controversial subject in the US for several decades. Proponents of this energy source say it is a relatively clean source of power; unlike coal-burning or gas-burning plants, nuclear plants do not release emissions such as ash or greenhouse gases into the air. Nuclear power is also an efficient source of energy, producing significant amounts of electricity for relatively low cost.
However, it does carry certain risks. If a plant is not well designed and carefully managed, accidents can cause radiation to be released into the air or water. In addition, nuclear plants produce potentially dangerous waste that must be handled and disposed of very carefully. The process of mining uranium, the fuel source for most of these plants, can also create environmental hazards.
Another potential risk is shared by power plants of all kinds: the presence of asbestos. Prior to 1987, many power plants across the country were built with cement, sheet metal, insulation, and other supplies that contained asbestos. Even though asbestos is no longer used in such a manner, the effects of its widespread use are still being felt today.