Emergency diesel generators are used in the event that a nuclear plant loses power at the site. Each U.S. nuclear plant houses its back-up emergency diesel generators in robust, steel-reinforced concrete structures that are designed to withstand the impact of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes specific to the plant site’s region. The generators are routinely checked both on line and during refueling outages to ensure that they work properly.
Nuclear plant emergency diesel generators are typically stored outside of the reactor building in an area that is easily accessible to plant staff in the event that they are needed. However, since nuclear plant sites vary in environmental requirements and design, there is not a set place for each U.S. nuclear energy facility to locate its back-up emergency diesel generators.
As part of the U.S. nuclear industry’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the industry is reviewing, testing and inspecting equipment at all 104 nuclear reactors to identify areas where there could be vulnerabilities in critical equipment functionality and will be developing strategies for making nuclear plants even safer. During this review, the industry will make any changes—such as storing equipment in safer areas if needed—to ensure that each U.S. nuclear energy facility is prepared to manage a total loss of off-site power during an extreme event, such as the one that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Apart from the U.S. nuclear industry’s response, the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also assessing similar issues at each nuclear plant site to ensure that the industry is held to the highest of safety standards and regulations to protect public health and safety.
What measures are taken in both the United States and Japan to prevent flooding or damaging of the emergency diesel generators?
To learn how Japan is dealing with preventing flooding or damage to emergency diesel generators, you would need to check with the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. It is important to keep in mind that Japan’s nuclear regulatory environment and plant operations vary from the United States, and nuclear facilities are subject to different environmental risks. Therefore, the standards in the United States may be different than those in Japan to reflect each country’s regulatory, nuclear plant operations and environmental challenges.
Check out our Web page, “Industry Actions: Incorporating Lessons from Japan,” to learn more about the steps the U.S. nuclear industry is taking to ensure that the nation’s nuclear plants are safe.
Learn more about nuclear energy and related topics in NEI’s “Ask an Expert” section.