WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute today announced the industry’s approval of a voluntary policy to help sustain operational focus on safety by standardizing a program to assess and implement practices that foster an enduring safety culture.
The initiative stems from many months of discussion within the industry and with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the best means to ensure industrywide application of programs and practices that embody the highest levels of organizational commitment to nuclear safety.
The safety culture initiative was approved by the industry’s chief nuclear officers last week.
The industry action supplements federal oversight conducted by the NRC, which has at least two independent inspectors at each of the U.S. nuclear energy industry’s 64 power plant sites every day. Evidence of the industry’s excellent safety record can be seen on the NRC website, where they post safety performance findings for each of the nation’s 104 reactors.
Even with this already-strong commitment to safety culture in the nuclear energy industry—which has helped the industry achieve record levels of reliability and electricity production during the past decade—industry leaders believe more can and should be done to assure the implementation of strong safety culture practices throughout the industry.
“The nuclear industry has consistently concentrated on putting nuclear safety first in our approach to generating electricity. Safety culture is essential since it is the foundation of our success,” said Edward Halpin, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of STP Nuclear Operating Co., who participated with a team of industry executives who worked with the Nuclear Energy Institute to develop the safety culture initiative.
STP Nuclear Operating Co. operates two reactors at the South Texas Project, which was recognized earlier this year by EHS Today as one of 12 companies nationally to be named to the 2010 list of America’s Safety Companies. STP is the first commercial nuclear facility to be recognized in the eight-year history of the award.
“Although our industry has set the example in this area, we are always looking for ways to improve in every aspect of our business. Adopting the NEI guidelines for ‘Fostering a Strong Nuclear Safety Culture’ demonstrates the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement and our continued focus on putting safety first,” Halpin said.
The initiative requires each company operating a nuclear power plant to implement the NEI guidance document by Oct. 1, 2011.
Using this guidance, companies that operate nuclear power plants will standardize the program to effectively assess nuclear safety culture on a regular basis, to provide input for senior managers and to implement improvement programs as warranted.
“The safety culture initiative recognizes that the industry should continually strive to achieve higher levels of performance—in operations and plant safety,” said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s chief nuclear officer and senior vice president. “Doing so will improve our operational performance, and will provide additional assurance to policymakers and the public that nuclear energy can continue to be relied upon as a key component of a diversified energy portfolio for generations to come.
“America needs reliable, affordable supplies of carbon-free electricity to fuel our economy with clean energy.”