In This Section
The industry protects the public and its workers with state-of-the-art technology that layers precaution on top of precaution. American nuclear power plants have four-feet-thick, steel-reinforced concrete containment buildings that surround the reactor and multiple backup systems that function even in the event of an emergency. These backup systems include diesel generators that provide reliable electrical power and cooling capability if an extreme event disables plant equipment. Battery banks and portable backup generators provide another layer of safety if both regular and backup power supply is lost.
Nuclear power plants are designed and built to withstand the most severe natural events that may occur where they are located, including earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, tornados, and large fires. The industry’s independent regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires additional safety margin to account for any uncertainties and to ensure the plant can remain safe in the event that an accident and a severe natural phenomenon occur at the same time.
There are a minimum of two independent inspectors from the NRC on site every day at each nuclear energy facility to monitor plant operations and report any situation that could pose a problem. If the NRC does not believe the plant is operating safely, it can shut the plant down at any time.
U.S. nuclear power facilities have top-of-the-line approaches to safety and operation that serve as a model for countries that are interested in developing commercial nuclear technology.
What sets the U.S. nuclear power industry apart from others is its ability to continuously learn and implement improvements through its internal “watchdog” group, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). INPO was formed by the industry in 1979 to drive operational excellence—above and beyond NRC requirements. INPO promotes excellence in safety and reliability at U.S. nuclear plants by setting performance objectives, criteria and guidelines for nuclear plant operations, and by conducting regular evaluations of nuclear plants.