A 1974 geologic report was the subject of much discussion during a meeting in Limerick Township on Wednesday.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission hosted the meeting to discuss with the public an annual safety performance assessment of Exelon's Limerick nuclear power plant.
There was no agenda for the event, which included workers from the NRC and Exelon.
Members of The Alliance For A Clean Environment brought copies of the nearly 40-year-old report, produced by Dames and Moore for the Philadelphia Electric Company, and a geologic map that shows several faults near the Limerick plant.
ACE -- a non-profit founded in the late 1980's that disbanded, rejuvenated in 1995 and has roughly 1,000 members -- works to protect the environment and address public health issues in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
"There are some faults that are in the vicinity of the plant," said Andrew Rosebrook, NRC senior project engineer. The Ramapo Fault is about 17 miles from Limerick and the Chalfont Fault is nearly nine miles from the nuclear plant, he said adding that a fault is basically a weak spot in the ground.
"These faults are extremely old," Rosebrook said and added it's "pretty unlikely" the faults would become active.
The plant was designed with layers of safety features to withstand an earthquake measuring about six on the Richter scale, he said.
However, plant safetly operations don't always work as planned, which was the case during a recent .
"You can't make everything totally fail proof," he said.
Rosebrook said he and his family live about five miles from the Limerick plant.
"I feel nuclear power is a very safe industry especially compared to other methods," he said. Plant operators, local fire and police departments practice to handle emergencies at the plant, he said.
"We force them to practice safety," he said.
The nuclear power industry learned a lot from disasters at plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima, Rosebrook said.
"It is our job to make sure they are operating the plant safely," he said.
Dana Melia, communications manager for Exelon's Limerick Generating Station, said roughly 860 employees are on site at the Limerick plant at any given time.
"Every task that we do is focused around safe operations of that system," she said.
Steve Aaron, a member of the PA Energy Alliance, funded by Exelon, was at the event to promote nuclear energy.
Aaron worked as communications director under Tom Ridge, governor of Pennsylvania from 1995–2001, and Mark Schweiker when Ridge resigned to become Homeland Security advisor under President George W. Bush.
"I got to witness sort of firsthand the professionalism of the industry," Aaron said of the nuclear power field's response to security threats during the events of Sept. 11, 2001. "I was very impressed."
Aaron said roughly 80 percent of 800 residents polled across the state in June, 2012 support nuclear energy.
"The numbers remain very strong," he said.
Nuclear power plants also create blue and white collar jobs, he said.
Betty Shank of Lower Pottsgrove Township said she'd rather see Exelon put their employees to work for other energy sources.
Shank and her husband Charlie lived near the Limerick site before the nuclear power plant was built roughly 30 years ago. At that time, she borrowed books -- from a book mobile that stopped at the Limerick Diner -- to learn more about the production of nuclear energy.
"Nothing that I read comforted me," she said. "I didn't want it here."
And the more she learned over the years, the more concerned she became.
The plumes that spew from the plant towers are toxic, she said.
"It's not just steam," she said. "It's loads of chemicals."
Shank hopes Exelon's license will not be renewed. Nuclear energy plants in the U.S. are licensed to operate for 40 years. Limerick Unit 1’s original license continues through Oct. 26, 2024 and Unit 2’s license continues through June 22, 2029. With license renewal, Unit 1 and Unit 2 would be permitted to operate until 2044 and 2049.
Shank said she'd prefer the company find a different way to produce energy.
"They could build ... maybe a solar park, keep people working and make it safer," she said. "The nuclear waste dump would stop growing ... The NRC and Exelon could still be heroes."