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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nuclear Energy Industry Actions to Ensure Continued Safe Operations

The accident at Fukushima Daiichi was caused, in part, by extraordinary natural forces that were outside the plant's required design parameters. Even though the full extent of damage to these reactors still is unknown, the combination of the earthquake and the tsunami challenged the structural integrity and safety of the plant. As more is learned about the Japanese events, more long-term corrective actions will be developed.

The U.S. nuclear energy industry has already started an assessment of the events in Japan and is taking steps to ensure that U.S. reactors could respond to events that may challenge safe operation of the facilities. These actions include:

Verify each plant's capability to manage major challenges, such as aircraft impacts and losses of large areas of the plant due to natural events, fires or explosions. Specific actions include testing and inspecting equipment required to mitigate these events, and verifying that qualifications of operators and support staff required to implement them are current.

Verify each plant's capability to manage a total loss of off-site power. This will require verification that all required materials are adequate and properly staged and that procedures are in place, and focusing operator training on these extreme events.
Verify the capability to mitigate flooding and the impact of floods on systems inside and outside the plant. Specific actions include verifying required materials and equipment are properly located to protect them from flood.

Perform walk-downs and inspection of important equipment needed to respond successfully to extreme events like fires and floods. This work will include analysis to identify any potential that equipment functions could be lost during seismic events appropriate for the site, and development of strategies to mitigate any potential vulnerabilities.

In addition, NEI's member companies are providing technical expertise and equipment to assist with recovery efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi plants.

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