WASHINGTON—Safety systems at every U.S. nuclear power plant are fully Year 2000-ready, a top industry executive told Congress today. Above and beyond plant safety systems, 101 of the 103 commercial nuclear reactors are fully Year 2000-ready, and only three non-safety Y2K issues remain to be completed at two reactors.
"Safety is our top priority. As a result of the tremendous efforts of industry professionals, I am proud to report that all nuclear power plants have demonstrated that their safety systems are Y2K-ready," said Ralph Beedle, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). "The 20 percent of our nation's electricity generated by nuclear power-enough electricity for 65 million homes-will not be jeopardized by Y2K issues."
A comprehensive, uniform Y2K program developed by industry in 1997 has made possible the readiness of nuclear power plants, Beedle told a joint hearing of the House Science Subcommittee on Technology and the Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.
"The industry's program guides plant operators in addressing Year 2000 issues in all systems important to safe, long-term electricity production-not just a few critical systems," he explained. "We have supplemented our readiness plan with training sessions for Y2K project managers, conducted workshops to exchange information among plants, and established an on-line bulletin board to speed the sharing of the most effective Y2K solutions."
Because of the importance of nuclear power plants to the stability of the nation’s electricity transmission system, electric utilities operators have developed plans for meeting potential Y2K challenges outside their control. "Detailed contingency plans are in place and are ready should they be needed during the transition to the Year 2000," Beedle said.
"Additional personnel will be at nuclear power plants, back-up communications systems are available, and response strategies have been developed. This advance preparation will reduce the likelihood that even a minor problem will disrupt power generation," he explained. "Consistent with the industry's commitment to safety, be assured that any problem that could affect safety would result in operators safely shutting down the plant."
Beedle concluded: "America can rely on electricity from nuclear energy—our largest source of emission-free electricity—on New Year's Day 2000 and into the new century. The industry approaches the new era knowing that all safety-related issues have been resolved and that nuclear power plants will continue to provide safe, reliable and clean electricity to our homes, business and industry."
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.