WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute today released and posted to its YouTube channel a five-minute video explaining the comprehensive and tailored response strategy that it is implementing industrywide to enhance nuclear plant safety in the face of extreme natural events.
To produce the high-definition video, NEI acquired first-of-its kind footage of the deployment of new emergency response equipment at U.S. nuclear energy facilities. The video also features animation and interviews with industry leaders and technical staff discussing nuclear plant safety.
The diverse and flexible (“FLEX”) response strategy developed by industry addresses the major challenges encountered at the Fukushima Daiichi power station following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami: the loss of power to maintain effective reactor fuel cooling.
Additional on-site portable equipment is being acquired to help ensure that every U.S. nuclear energy facility can respond safely to extreme events, no matter what the cause. The equipment ranges from diesel-driven pumps and electric generators to ventilation fans, hoses, fittings, cables and satellite communications gear. It also includes support materials for emergency responders.
“The FLEX equipment is used to provide water and power in the event of an emergency. This is very, very important. If you can keep the reactor core cool, the plant is always safe, and safety is our number one priority at all of our plants,” Dominion Nuclear’s president and chief nuclear officer, David Heacock, says in the video. “We have backups, and then we have backups for the backups.”
“We always put safety first,” says Ed Halpin, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. “We recognize that we have been given a special trust through our (operating) license, and that trust is to protect the health and safety of the general public.”
The video also describes the industry’s development of two regional centers that will stage critical safety equipment that can be sent to any U.S. nuclear energy facility in the event of an extreme event at America’s nuclear energy facilities. The regional response centers will be located near Memphis and Phoenix and will supplement equipment sharing protocols already in place among energy companies that operate U.S. reactors. These facilities will be able to deliver additional safety equipment to nuclear energy facilities within 24 hours.
Nuclear energy facilities operating in 31 states provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses.
“Nuclear energy is a vital part of the U.S. electricity portfolio and because of that our industry has a history of seeking and making continuous safety improvements,” said Scott Peterson, senior vice president at NEI. “Our industry has worked proactively almost from the moment the tsunami struck Japan to capture and apply lessons learned. This video provides background on the FLEX strategy that is a tangible byproduct of this ongoing effort.”