Skip to main content

Fukushima Five Years Later: SAFER Response Within 24 Hours to Any US Reactor

Michael Pacilio
This week is the fifth anniversary of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. To mark the event, we'll be sharing observations from leaders around the nuclear energy industry all week long on how the U.S. has absorbed lessons learned from the accident to make safe nuclear plants even safer. Today's contribution comes from Michael Pacilio, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Exelon Generation.

After the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s acceptance of the industry’s FLEX strategy, the industry immediately began development of a three-phased approach to mitigating beyond-design-basis events.

In phase one, companies would use permanently installed equipment as an initial means of responding to a serious event. The phase two concept drove the acquisition and storage of portable equipment at each nuclear plant site to enhance the station’s coping strategies. Finally, phase three drove the enhancement of existing inter-utility support agreements and the development of independent, national response centers that house portable safety equipment that can be delivered to any nuclear plant site in America within 24 hours.

The nuclear industry jointly established an implementation plan for phase three. Led by the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations, inter-utility memorandums of understanding were updated to reflect the need to maintain an inventory of on-site, portable equipment that could be moved from site to site as required. The memorandums also re-enforced personnel support among utilities in need of specific expertise.

This pump delivers 5,000 gallons of water per minute at a pressure of 150 psi.
Through a proposal review and interview process, an industry team competitively selected an organization to procure, house and maintain additional portable safety equipment. The Strategic Alliance for FLEX Emergency Response (SAFER) team, comprised of the Pooled Equipment Inventory Co. and Areva Inc., was selected to manage the project.

The industry determined bounding operational requirements for common equipment and industrywide standards were established for common pump connections and electrical cable connections. Simultaneously, the SAFER organization developed strategies for storage, maintenance and movement of equipment to nuclear plants and created site-specific response playbooks to be used as a common reference for all parties involved in an event response.

Ultimately, national SAFER response centers were established in Memphis, Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona. The industry signed a contract with FedEx Custom Critical for the movement of equipment from either center to an affected site by road or air. Five complete sets of generic equipment—a robust mix of portable pumps, generators and supporting equipment—are maintained at each center. Additionally, equivalent sets of site-specific equipment were procured for each center.

Transportation of equipment from the centers to facilities in need have been assured by contracts with five commercial helicopter companies as well as utility specific agreements with state Air National Guard units and an overarching letter of agreement established between the NRC and the Department of Defense for use of military helicopters. Any combination of these could be used to support local airlift of equipment if a site becomes isolated from roads during an event.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…