An emergency equipment centre has opened in Phoenix, Arizona to supply nuclear power plants in the western USA with portable safety equipment in the event of a Fukushima-type emergency. A second facility opens in Memphis, Tennessee in June.
"Equipment from the regional response centers will enable all nuclear plant operators to protect their reactors and used fuel storage pools until normal power and cooling systems are restored. This is in addition to other measures, including built-in safety systems, the use of on-site portable emergency equipment, and portable equipment and materials on hand at all 62 nuclear energy facilities that can be utilized and shared during an emergency," said Randy Edington, executive vice president and chief nuclear officer of Arizona Public Service Co., which owns and operates the Palo Verde nuclear facility.
Equipment stored at the centre includes portable backup generators, portable high pressure pumps, portable low pressure pumps, diesel fuel transfer pumps, diesel fuel tanks, diesel powered light towers, water treatment, booster pumps, electrical distribution cabinets, cables, and hoses. Each centre houses five full sets of equipment, with four ready to be moved to any U.S. nuclear power plant at all times, and the equipment will undergo regular testing for operability, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the US industry association involved in setting up the centre.
The two regional response centers, one near Phoenix and one near Memphis, will be capable of delivering the needed equipment within 24 hours using ground and air transport, NEI said. It added that the startup cost for each facility is about $40 million, with annual operating costs of about $4 million. Costs will be shared by nuclear power plant operators.
In charge of operating the centres is the Strategic Alliance for FLEX Emergency Response (SAFER), an alliance between the Pooled Equipment Inventory Company (PEICo) and AREVA. SAFER said that the industry will make a $400 million investment in the programme over its 40-year life.
Pooled Inventory Management (PIM) has managed a nuclear industry joint inventory storage and maintenance programme for more than 30 years. This includes experience supporting the needs of the nuclear industry for acquisition, long-term storage, maintenance, and immediate expedited shipping of emergency equipment upon demand, such as control rod drive motors, diesel engines, generators, motors, pumps and turbines. The estimated value of the PIM inventory is more than $190 million.
Day-to-day operations of PIM are conducted by Southern Nuclear Services in a management contract.
There are six employees at the Phoenix FLEX centre and three in Memphis, although that site is shared with the PIM warehouse.
Picture: location of Memphis, Tennessee FLEX centre opening in June, with members participating in Pooled Inventory Management's prior equipment-sharing arrangements. Existing FLEX response centre in Phoenix, Arizona not shown.