Emergency Equipment at Centers Part of Post-Fukushima Safety Strategy
MEMPHIS, Tenn.—The U.S. nuclear energy industry added another layer of public protection with the opening here today of a national response center established as part of the industry’s post-Fukushima safety strategy. The Memphis response center, like one that opened in Phoenix last month, will be capable of delivering complete sets of emergency equipment to help facilities respond safely to extreme events no matter what causes them.
Equipment at the response centers supplements permanent safety systems built into nuclear energy facilities and multiple sets of portable, backup safety equipment already positioned at the facilities. Companies also have protocols in place to share backup safety equipment already stored at nuclear power plants.
“With the opening of this center today, and the one in Phoenix just a few weeks ago, the U.S. nuclear industry adds yet another layer of safety and protection for the public and our employees,” said Mike Pacilio, the executive sponsor for national response centers on the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Fukushima Response Steering Committee. Pacilio also is president of Exelon Nuclear and chief nuclear officer of Exelon Generation, the nation’s largest nuclear energy company.
“This is part of the industry’s strategy to provide flexible and tailored backup safety equipment at nuclear power plants in the event of extreme unexpected events. Each of these centers is designed to deliver emergency backup equipment anywhere in America within 24 hours,” Pacilio said.
Equipment stored at the center includes portable backup generators, pumps, standardized couplings and hoses. Each center houses five full sets of equipment, with four ready to be moved to any U.S. nuclear power plant at all times. The equipment will undergo regular testing to assure its functionality.
The startup cost for each facility is about $40 million, with annual operating costs of about $4 million. The costs will be shared by companies operating 100 reactors that generate one-fifth of America’s electricity.
To develop and operate the two facilities, the industry established the Strategic Alliance for FLEX Emergency Response, or SAFER. The SAFER team includes industry personnel and services of the Pooled Equipment Inventory Company (PEICo) and AREVA Inc. PEICo has provided replacement equipment for emergent needs in the nuclear energy industry for more than three decades through the Pooled Inventory Management program. AREVA provides industry-leading services that include emergency response planning and mobilization, project management, engineering, licensing, outage management, and field response experience.
The new center in Memphis is located within the Tennessee Valley Authority service territory. TVA operates three nuclear plants within a day’s drive of the facility.
“The safety and security of the public and our employees is a top priority,” said Joe Grimes, executive vice president and chief nuclear officer for TVA. “These centers demonstrate the commitment being made by the industry and our partners to ensure that nuclear power remains safe and reliable. Now every nuclear plant in the country will have even more resources to keep the public safe in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe.”
In response to the 2011 Fukushima accident, the industry established a flexible and diverse (FLEX) safety strategy to address the key lessons learned from Japan, including the loss of electrical power needed to maintain effective cooling. The national response centers are one element of the FLEX approach. The two response centers will be capable of delivering the needed equipment within 24 hours using ground and air transport.
“This facility is important,” Pacilio said. “It expands our defense-in-depth safety commitment and adds tremendously to our ability to manage any extreme event.”