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Nuclear Energy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 15, 2003
Contact: media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 or 703.644.8805 (after hours and weekends)

Nuclear Power Plants Will Return to Service as Regional Electricity Grid Stabilizes

WASHINGTON—Once the electricity grid is functioning in the Northeast and nuclear power plants affected by Thursday’s blackout have a place to send their electricity, they will return to service under a start-up process that typically takes approximately five hours if the plant is in a “stand-by” rather than a “shutdown” mode, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said today. Start-up times for the affected nuclear plants will vary depending on circumstances at each facility, NEI Vice President of Operations Charles M. Dugger cautioned.

The nine U.S. nuclear power plants affected by Thursday’s blackout will assure that safety systems are functioning properly and that the plants are operating within their design specifications, just as they would when restoring power following a refueling outage, Dugger said.

“The historic nature of the power outage does not affect the disciplined shutdown and start-up procedures that nuclear power plants adhere to in the course of normal operations,” Dugger said.

The following nine nuclear power plants shut down due to instability in the electricity grid: Indian Point 2 and 3 in New York; Perry (Ohio); Fermi (Michigan); Ginna (New York); FitzPatrick (New York); Oyster Creek (New Jersey); and Nine Mile Point 1 and 2 (New York).

In the event of the loss of power from the electricity grid – a circumstance that happens periodically – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires nuclear power plants to have dual onsite electric power systems and dual offsite power sources to assure that systems and components will function to safely shut down the plant. Backup power typically is provided by diesel generators, and more than sufficient fuel supplies for the generators are present onsite as well. When the entire grid collapses as it did Thursday, safety systems are powered by the back-up onsite systems.

Nuclear power plant’s electronic security systems also have independent back-up power to keep them functioning. Beyond that, nuclear power plants are protected by a paramilitary security force of 7,000 highly trained, well-armed officers, nearly two-thirds of whom have prior military, law enforcement or industry security experience. Power plant structures also are protected by a combination of robust structural plant designs and redundant physical barriers.
 

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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.



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