Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station  Responding to Fukushima: Part 4 of a 5-Part Series

Containment vents play an important role in the overall safety strategy at nuclear energy facilities by preventing the potentially hazardous buildup of pressure from steam and gases inside a reactor. A specially designed vent in the massive containment dome that surrounds a reactor is designed to withstand extreme events by relieving primary containment pressure to a stack or other elevated release point.

Boiling water reactors with Mark I containment structures, the type of reactor at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility, have a proven record of more than 40 years of safe and reliable operations.  Twenty-three of this type of reactor in the United States are equipped with these specially designed vents. Although vent valves are rarely used—they’ve never been needed during five decades of operation at U.S. reactors—the events in Japan highlighted the need to ensure that they would function even in the most unlikely circumstances.
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Monitoring Used Nuclear Fuel Pools

Responding to Fukushima: Part 3 of a 5-Part Series

The events at Fukushima unveiled an important lesson to the nuclear industry on the need to remotely monitor water temperature and levels in used fuel storage pools during an extended loss of power. In particular, when power was lost at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors, the systems the plant relied on to monitor the used fuel pools were inoperable. That loss led some to erroneously conclude that there was no water in the spent fuel pool at reactor 4—a conclusion that was later proven to be false.

The industry supports the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) recommendation that U.S. nuclear energy facilities enhance used fuel pool monitoring instrumentation. The storage pools protect used fuel rods under 40 feet of water to allow radioactivity in the fuel to safely decrease. Adding backup monitoring equipment enables operators to know when they need to take action to maintain water level and temperature of used fuel storage pools in the unlikely event that installed systems have been disabled.
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Plant Status

  • Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility have taken steps to halt the possibility of localized fission reactions in reactor 2 after detecting trace amounts radioactive xenon in the reactor’s containment vessel, NHK World reports. Xenon is a byproduct of fission. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the facility, reports no significant changes in temperature, pressure and other data from the reactor.
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Emergency Diesel Generator

Responding to Fukushima: Part 2 of a 5-Part Series

Nearly all of the events that occurred at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility following the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami can be traced to the complete loss of electricity, including backup generators and emergency batteries, that was needed to power reactor cooling systems.

In response to the Fukushima accident, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is re-evaluating the agency’s “station blackout” requirements for dealing with power outages. U.S. nuclear plants are required to have a minimum of four hours of emergency power; many plants exceed that requirement. That’s in addition to the several locomotive-sized diesel generators that provide layer upon layer of backup power for systems to safely shut down and maintain a reactor should electricity from the grid be disturbed.
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Flood Protection Dike

Responding to Fukushima: Part 1 of a 5-Part Series

U.S. nuclear energy facilities are highly unlikely to experience the devastating combination of a massive earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, but the events there underscored the need to guard against even very unlikely combinations of extreme natural forces.

The nuclear energy industry agrees with most issues the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has identified since Fukushima to complement existing seismic and flood protection programs.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First