All 103 commercial nuclear power plants operating in the United States are fully Year 2000-ready, a top industry executive reported today.
"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," said Ralph Beedle, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). "With contingency plans in place to supplement the readiness efforts that already have taken place, the nuclear energy industry has completed a two and one-half year program designed to assure the safe, reliable delivery of electricity on and beyond the arrival of the New Year."
A comprehensive, uniform Y2K program developed by industry in 1997 made possible the readiness of nuclear power plants, Beedle said. "The nuclear industry's program guided plant personnel in addressing potential Year 2000 issues in all systems important to safe, long-term electricity production-not just a few critical systems," he explained.
During the two and one-half year effort, more than 200,000 items were tested in nuclear power plants, and the 5 percent that required correction were fixed. "We supplemented the industry plan with training sessions for Y2K project managers, conducted workshops to exchange information among plant managers, and established an on-line bulletin board to speed the sharing of the most effective Y2K solutions," Beedle added.
Because nuclear power plants are important to the stability of the nation's electricity transmission system, 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 December 31, 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.
"In keeping with the industry's commitment to safety, any problem that could affect the safe operation of a plant would result in operators shutting down the reactor," Beedle added. In July, the industry reported that all plant safety systems were Y2K-ready, and plant operators subsequently completed repairs to remaining non-safety items.
In July, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)-the federal government's oversight agency-concluded that safety systems in all nuclear power plants were unaffected by Y2K issues and would function safely and reliably on the Year 2000 date change. NRC and independent audits determined that nuclear power plant operators properly implemented Y2K readiness solutions. In addition, each plant's Y2K program received at least one comprehensive audit-by the utility's quality assurance experts, specialists from another nuclear power plant, or a third-party review team.
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. Electricity consumers can be confident 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, businesses 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.