2013

Recent media reports accusing the nuclear energy industry of opposing the installation of filtered vents on Mark I and II boiling water reactors (BWRs) are incorrect. What is really at stake is taking the most meaningful steps at nuclear plants to prevent and manage an accident like the one at Fukushima.

The nuclear energy industry continues to learn a great deal about what happened at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, and is applying the lessons to make America’s nuclear plants even safer.

Commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. must be able to prevent and manage an accident like the one at Fukushima.

Clearly, the best way is to not have an accident in the first place.  As documented in a report by an independent commission of Japan’s national legislature, U.S. plants are much better regulated, run and prepared than their counterparts in Japan.  In addition to the myriad systems installed in U.S. plants to prevent accidents and cope with a severe accident, U.S. plants have become even better prepared since the Fukushima accident.  Even if all installed cooling systems were to fail, new portable power and water systems will cool the reactor core and protect spent uranium fuel in storage pools at the facility.  These new systems—part of a new diverse and flexible safety strategy (FLEX)—also include additional pre-staged pumps, generators, and other equipment at other nuclear plants and two new regional response centers.

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Representatives of the nuclear energy industry once again this week asked the NRC to adopt a performance-based approach to minimize the release of radioactivity from damaged fuel in a severe accident, while agency staff reiterated its earlier recommendation to require external filters for the containment vents of early-model boiling water reactors.

“A performance-based approach to filtration provides the greatest overall improvement in plant safety with sufficient filtration,” said Maria Korsnick, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s chief nuclear officer and chief operating officer. “The industry approach has the advantage of retaining the filtered radionuclides in containment. The desire is to prevent land contamination.”

Korsnick added that a performance-based approach that would specify results rather than methods to attain them would require plant-specific analyses. She noted that the NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards “supports this approach”.

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Earlier today, the Nuclear Energy Institute released a five-minute video explaining the comprehensive and tailored response strategy that it is implementing across the industry to enhance nuclear plant safety in the face of extreme natural events.

To produce the high-definition video, NEI acquired first-of-its kind footage of the deployment of new emergency response equipment at U.S. nuclear energy facilities. The video also features animation and interviews with industry leaders and technical staff discussing nuclear plant safety.

The diverse and flexible (“FLEX”) response strategy developed by industry addresses the major challenges encountered at the Fukushima Daiichi power station following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami: the loss of power to maintain effective reactor fuel cooling.

Additional on-site portable equipment is being acquired to help ensure that every U.S. nuclear energy facility can respond safely to extreme events, no matter what the cause. The equipment ranges from diesel-driven pumps and electric generators to ventilation fans, hoses, fittings, cables and satellite communications gear. It also includes support materials for emergency responders. For additional information concerning how the American nuclear energy is applying lessons learned from Fukushima, please visit the Fukushima response section of NEI.org.

Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First