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Showing posts from March, 2016

Fox and Friends and Nuclear Plant Security

Both the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have concluded that U.S. nuclear plants are among the most secure of all industrial facilities. But for some reason, that fact wasn't reported on Fox and Friends this morning when Tucker Carlson interviewed Alan Kuperman of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project on nuclear power plant security.


When it comes to the threat of terrorism, American nuclear plants responded quickly in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, spending more than $2 billion to upgrade security.

The independent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said that nuclear power plants are "among the best-protected private sector facilities in the nation." The NRC holds nuclear power plants to the highest security standards of any American industry. These security measures get more robust the closer you get to the plant, using defenses such as vehicles, barriers/concrete walls, sophisticated intrusion detection and weapon…

Public Opinion on Nuclear Energy: Where is it Headed?

The following is a guest post by Ann S. Bisconti, PhD, President, Bisconti Research, Inc.

As we await the results of the ongoing NEI Spring 2016 Public Opinion Survey on Nuclear Energy, two other surveys have raised the question: Where is public opinion about nuclear energy headed? Scientific American Plugged In, March 23, pondered the dramatically different results from questions about nuclear energy asked in polls by Gallup and the University of Texas (UT) and essentially ended puzzled, concluding that polls are faulty. But wait a minute. Both polls are accurate, and we can learn lessons about public opinion by studying them.

Gallup’s Annual Environmental Poll includes one question about nuclear energy, an NEI tracking question: “Overall, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States.” Gallup found 44 percent in favor and 54 percent opposed in 2016, a big dro…

The American Hero Behind Plant Vogtle

On this day in 1944, 76 Allied prisoners of war broke out of a Nazi POW camp. It was a daring operation that later became known as "The Great Escape" thanks to a book and film adaptation of the same name. What in the world does this have to do with nuclear energy?

One of the main characters in the film is U.S. Army Air Force pilot Virgil Hilts. He was played by Hollywood legend Steve McQueen. Virgil Hilts was just a fictional character. But Alvin Vogtle was the real deal.

I'll let NEI's Mark Flanagan pick it up from here in an excerpt from a 2010 blog post about the federal loan guarantees for the construction of two AP-1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

* * * Who was Alvin Ward Vogtle, Jr., after whom the plant is named? According to his 1994 New York Time obituary, he was:
A former president and chairman of the Atlanta-based Southern Company. Well, that makes sense. But here’s what really caught our eye in the obituary:
Captured and sent to a prisoner of w…

An All-of-the-Above Nuclear Future

The following is a guest post from Russ Bell, senior director of new plant licensing at NEI.

There was a positive vibe at this year’s NRC Regulatory Information Conference (RIC), which took place in Rockville, MD, on March 8-10. Held annually, “the RIC” is the largest conference of nuclear energy professionals in the world. RIC sessions cover numerous topics du jour, including justifiable pride by regulators and industry alike in the safety improvements made in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency that occurred at Fukushima-Daiichi; anticipation of second license renewals that will further extend the useful life of our operating fleet of 100 reactors; and excitement about new, advanced design nuclear plants. The future was a recurring theme of the 2016 RIC.

While we can’t predict the future, there are a few things we can say for sure:
The demand for electricity and the myriad benefits it brings will continue to grow.Demands will increase for our electricity be cle…

Fukushima Five Years Later: The FLEX Strategy

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 on the industry's FLEX strategy from David Heacock, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dominion Nuclear.

The U.S. nuclear industry is well on its way toward implementing a flexible mitigation approach for responding to any event that may exceed the robust design of the nation’s nuclear power plants. This FLEX strategy, the outcome of the U.S. industry’s response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, provides yet another layer of safety. This is in addition to the multiple back-up safety systems already available to protect the public and environment.


In effect, this strategy was demonstrated to successfully prevent damage to th…

Fukushima Five Years Later: Focused on Operational Excellence

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 Bill Webster, Executive Vice President, Industry Strategy for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

U.S. nuclear stations continue to perform at high levels of safety and reliability, as measured by internationally accepted measures of performance. Most notably, as we approached the end of 2015, industry median values for capability factor, forced loss rate, reactor scrams, collective radiation exposure and industrial safety reflect the best-ever performance of America’s nuclear energy industry and exceed the challenging five-year goals set for these indicators in 2010.

Early in the response to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, …

Fukushima Five Years Later: EPRI Software Helps Improve Accident Response Guidelines

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 Neil Wilmshurst, Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

Even as the events at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were unfolding, the U.S. industry began analyzing the situation and compiling data that would inform the industry’s lessons learned.

The Electric Power Research Institute’s Modular Accident Analysis Program (MAAP) software analyzes the progression of events during an accident. It captures many possible outcomes in a short timeframe. Unlike other codes, MAAP runs faster than accidents progress so it can actually guide emergency responders. Now in its fifth version, the tool has …

Fukushima Five Years Later: U.S.-Japan Collaboration

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 Jeff Archie, Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer of South Carolina Electric & Gas Company.

Chief nuclear officers (CNO) representing U.S. energy companies have collaborated with their Japanese colleagues on leadership, safety and reactor operations during meetings in Japan and the United States and in personal interactions.

Since 2013, more than 30 U.S. CNOs visited the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants in Japan to obtain a greater understanding of the events at each facility after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They met with Japanese CNOs to strengthen support and engagement between the two countries’ nuclear …

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

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 agreemen…

Decommissioning Nuclear Power Reactors Safely and Efficiently

The following is a guest post from Rod McCullum, senior director of used fuel and decommissioning programs at NEI.

In November 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to consider potential new regulations governing the decommissioning of nuclear power reactors. This action came at a time of increasing interest in decommissioning as many reactors are reaching the end of their operating lifespan. Yet, while interest in this topic may be peaking, it is certainly not a new subject. Industry and NRC have, over several decades, established a proven track record of safely taking power reactors out of service. Interest in new regulations at this time stems mainly from a desire to improve efficiency – and not from any identified safety need. This interest will be a topic of discussion at NRC’s upcoming Regulatory Information Conference (RIC), with an entire session on Thursday morning devoted to the potential rulemaking.

In the Unit…