Industry plans nuclear response centres

29 October 2012

The US nuclear industry is preparing for future emergencies by establishing two regional centres that should operate from mid-2014. Vital equipment to maintain safety in an extreme event will be able to reach any of the USA's nuclear plants within 24 hours.

All of the USA's nuclear operators have approved a contract to establish centres at Memphis, Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona, which will be managed by Pooled Equipment Inventory Co. Materials and equipment supplied from the centres will supplement the additional on-site portable equipment purchased at all of the country's 64 nuclear energy facilities under an initiative announced in February 2012. Together, the equipment should enable plants to manage situations involving a loss of electrical power or supply of cooling water, or both.

The centres will be able to deliver a full set of portable safety equipment, radiation protection equipment, electrical generators, pumps and other emergency response equipment to an affected site within 24 hours of an extreme event. The designated staging areas for the equipment are close enough to allow delivery by land or air within that time frame, but far enough away to be less likely to be encumbered by the conditions that caused the emergency at the affected facility. Large diesel generators cannot be delivered by air and will be stored at additional warehouses around the country to ensure their timely delivery over land.

Announcing the initiative, chief nuclear officer of US industry organisation the Nuclear Energy Institute Tony Pietrangelo said the regional response centres were an example of US industry response to the lessons from the Fukushima accident of 2011. The centres would increase industry preparedness for severe challenges regardless of their causes, he said.

The centres are expected to be operational by August 2014. Startup costs of approximately $40 million are to be shared by all the companies operating nuclear facilities in the USA, who will also share an average annual cost of about $4 million once the centres are in operation. Pooled Equipment Inventory Co. has over 30 years of experience in providing a shared inventory service to the US nuclear industry, and has established an alliance with Areva to enable it to expand its capability to provide services including emergency response planning, procurement and outage services.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News