WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. nuclear energy industry announced today that it has created a leadership structure among major electric sector organizations to integrate and coordinate the nuclear industry’s ongoing response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident that followed Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Supported by senior electric utility executives and reactor vendors, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and the Electric Power Research Institute work through a new Fukushima Response Steering Committee to coordinate and oversee response activities. These activities will be implemented through seven “building blocks”—temporary organizations created to develop and execute action plans in specified areas of focus.
Two key goals that drove the design of this “joint leadership model” are to ensure that no gaps exist in response activities and that there is not a duplication of effort among the organizations and companies that comprise the industry, said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. Pietrangelo unveiled the structure at a news conference here today with Charles Pardee, who chairs the Fukushima Response Steering Committee. Pardee is the chief operating officer for Exelon Generation Co.
“The nuclear energy industry’s top priority is safety. We recognize that to maintain the highest standard of safety and security to ensure top performance at every U.S. nuclear energy facility, we must continually evolve and improve standards of practice, and adapt to events and new information that affect or have the potential to affect our industry,” Pietrangelo said.
“Our industry is committed to ensuring safety at American reactors, which is why it’s imperative that we continue to support the recovery efforts at Fukushima Daiichi and monitor events in Japan given the long-term impacts moving forward.”
The seven building blocks, each of which has a designated lead organization, such as NEI or INPO, are:
1. Maintain focus on excellence in existing plant performance.
2. Develop and issue lessons learned from Fukushima events.
3. Improve the effectiveness of U.S. industry response capability to global nuclear events
4. Develop and implement a strategic communications plan.
5. Develop and implement the industry’s regulatory response.
6. Participate and coordinate with international organizations.
7. Provide technical support and R&D coordination.
The framework is delineated in a report entitled “The Way Forward: U.S. Industry Leadership in Response to the Accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.” The document states, “A comprehensive investigation of the events at Fukushima Daiichi will take considerable time. Yet there is also a need to act in a deliberate, decisive manner. The industry’s response is structured to ensure that emergency response strategies are updated based on new information and insights learned during subsequent event review.”
“The leadership of the U.S. commercial nuclear industry is dedicated to gaining a deep understanding of the events at Fukushima Daiichi and to taking the necessary actions to improve safety and emergency preparedness at America’s nuclear energy facilities,” Pardee said. “An important and integral aspect of the industry’s response is the awareness and involvement of the industry’s many stakeholders, including industry vendors, architect-engineering companies, industry owners’ groups and national consensus nuclear standards organizations. This will ensure that the interests of each stakeholder group are considered.”
Technical areas that will be the areas of focus under the response effort include: the nuclear workforce; total loss of on-site and off-site AC power; the severe accident management guidelines that the industry established voluntarily in the early 1990s to provide another layer of protection above and beyond federal regulatory requirements; used fuel pool cooling; and proactive strategies for containment structures.
U.S. nuclear power plants operating in 31 states reliably supply low-carbon electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses.