Nuclear Energy Institute

Charles Pardee

Exelon Generation Co.'s Chief Operating Officer Charles Pardee

Guest Commentary by Charles Pardee
Chief Operating Officer of
Exelon Generation Co.
Chairman of the Fukushima Response Steering Committee

Nearly a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami disabled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, the U.S. nuclear energy industry remains dedicated to applying lessons learned from these events to enhance safety at the nation’s 104 reactors. Over the past year, both the industry and the independent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), have systematically reviewed the events for applicable lessons and independently assessed areas to target for safety improvements at nuclear energy facilities. These reviews complemented ongoing safety inspections at nuclear energy facilities.

As part of these reviews, the U.S. nuclear industry:

  • verified that all systems to mitigate potential damage are functioning
  • completed inspections of systems that protect plants against extreme natural events
  • is enhancing protection of used fuel storage pools
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  • The Nuclear Energy Institute transmitted a letter last week to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reiterating its strategy for implementing upcoming regulatory changes in response to lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. By last Friday all five NRC commissioners had made public their unanimous votes to order nuclear energy utilities to establish a mitigation strategy for beyond-design-basis external events as well as to enhance Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactor venting systems and used fuel pool instrumentation. The orders are expected to be issued by the end of the week.
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Plant Status

  • Water temperatures inside the Fukushima Daiichi reactor pressure vessels remain below boiling as operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. reports on progress toward stabilizing the damaged reactors. The company expects to reach what it calls a “cold shutdown condition” in the three reactors by the end of the year, with temperatures below 212 F and radiation contained. The exact status of the fuel in the reactors is not known. But if damaged fuel has leaked from the reactors into the primary containments, however, TEPCO said “it is sufficiently cooled to suppress steam from being generated and [the] accompanying release of radioactive materials.” Radiation measured at the site boundary is 10 millirem per year, one-tenth of the government safety limit. The circulating reactor cooling systems continue to function, as pumps maintain the total volume of accumulated water on the site at a level that can withstand heavy rain or an extended outage of processing facilities.

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Four-Day Chronology Provides Common Baseline of Facts To Inform Response Activities by U.S. Industry, Government

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 11, 2011—The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations has compiled a detailed timeline of events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The detailed report, prepared as part of the integrated response to the Japan events, was delivered today to U.S. industry executives, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and members of Congress.

“The U.S. nuclear energy industry is committed to learning from Japan’s experience and applying relevant lessons to make U.S. nuclear energy facilities even safer. We are sharing this report with the widest possible audience because it is important that we all work from the same set of facts in determining the appropriate response,” said NEI’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer, Tony Pietrangelo. “It is of paramount importance that we learn from it and take our facilities to even higher levels of safety and preparedness.”


Read the Fukushima timeline >>

Watch NEI’s Tony Pietrangelo comment on the Fukushima timeline >>

NEI’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Tony Pietrangelo comments on the publication of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ (INPO) official timeline of Fukushima events after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

See also NEI’s news release and the Fukushima timeline report.

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