WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute today announced the industry’s unanimous approval of an initiative to procure additional on-site portable equipment that will be available to help ensure that every commercial nuclear energy facility can respond safely to extreme events, no matter what the cause.
Companies that operate America’s nuclear energy facilities already have acquired or ordered more than 300 pieces of major equipment to supplement layer upon layer of safety at the nation’s commercial reactors. The initiative commits every company operating a nuclear energy facility to order or enter into contract for a plant-specific list of emergency equipment by March 31.
The equipment ranges from diesel-driven pumps and electric generators to ventilation fans, hoses, fittings, cables and communications gear. It also includes support materials for emergency responders, including food, water and other supplies.
The equipment will supplement emergency equipment acquired by the industry in recent months and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help facilities safely respond to large fires and explosions. The new equipment will be stored at diverse locations and protected to ensure that it can be used if other systems that comprise a facility’s multi-layered safety strategy are compromised.
“The additional portable equipment will provide power and water to maintain three key safety functions in the absence of AC power and heat transfer capability from permanently installed safety systems,” said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “The three functions are reactor core cooling, used fuel pool cooling and containment integrity.”
The procurement initiative reflects the industry’s commitment to implement the “FLEX” strategy that it proposed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin incorporating lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi accident as quickly as possible, Pietrangelo said. This “flexible and diverse” strategy has been well received by the NRC in recognition that it provides early tangible safety benefits while other regulatory issues are being assessed and resolved, he said.
“The majority of the on-site equipment identified will support safety systems engineered into the reactor designs or other equipment already added to provide additional backup to those systems. Some items—a high-pressure pump and larger power supplies, for example—will need more detailed, plant-specific engineering analysis that will be completed later this year,” Pietrangelo said.
Nuclear energy facilities operating in 31 states supply electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses.