Nuclear power operators purchase additional emergency equipment

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said its industry members unanimously approved an initiative to purchase 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.

NEI said utilities that operate America’s nuclear energy facilities already have acquired or ordered more than 300 pieces of major equipment. 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, 2012. 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 following the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help facilities safely respond to large fires and explosions. NEI said 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 (NRC) to begin incorporating lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi accident as quickly as possible, Pietrangelo said.

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