US nuclear groups band together for Fukushima response

14 June 2011

Three US nuclear industry bodies have organised a formal structure to respond to the Fukushima Daiichi emergency.

US industry's post-Fukushima organisation
The USA's EPRI, INPO and NEI split up industry tasks to coordinate Fukushima response

They are the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), and Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), in conjunction with senior utility executives. The group says that this organisation will ensure that lessons learned are identified and well understood, and that response actions are effectively coordinated and implemented throughout the industry.

It said: “A comprehensive investigation of the events at Fukushima Daiichi will take considerable time. Yet, there is also a need to act in a deliberate and decisive manner. Recognizing this, America’s nuclear energy industry is taking action based on a preliminary understanding of the events.

“Separately, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is conducting an independent assessment and will consider actions to ensure that its regulations reflect lessons learned from the Fukushima events.”

The group established several strategic goals for critical safety functions:

  • The nuclear workforce remains focused on safety and operational excellence at all plants, particularly in light of the increased work that the response to the Fukushima event will represent.
  • Timelines for emergency response capability to ensure continued core cooling, containment integrity and spent fuel storage pool cooling are synchronized to preclude fuel damage following station blackout.
  • The U.S. nuclear industry is capable of responding effectively to any significant event in the U.S. with the response being scalable to support an international event, as appropriate.
  • Severe accident management guidelines, security response strategies (B.5.b), and external event response plans are effectively integrated to ensure nuclear energy facilities are capable of a symptom-based response to events that could impact multiple reactors at a single site.
  • Margins for protection from external events are sufficient based on the latest hazards analyses and historical data.
  • Spent fuel pool cooling and makeup functions are fully protective during periods of high heat load in the spent fuel pool and during extended station blackout conditions.
  • Primary containment protective strategies can effectively manage and mitigate post-accident conditions, including elevated pressure and hydrogen concentrations.

Division of labour

The group has divided work into seven temporary organisations led by an individual. Each of the temporary organisation will consist of assigned managers and designated personnel from the industry organizations, utilities, and suppliers. Building block oversight is provided by the steering committee, lead industry organization, and the assigned steering committee sponsor.

The temporary organisations (and supporting industry association) are:

  • Maintain Focus on Excellence in Existing Plant Performance (INPO): focus on continued performance improvement of U.S. reactors.
  • Develop and Issue Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Events (INPO): focus on comprehensive analysis of the Fukushima event and that lessons learned are applied to the U.S. nuclear industry and shared with the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
  • Improve the Effectiveness of U.S. Industry Response Capability to Global Nuclear Events (INPO/NEI): focus on identified lessons learned from the U.S. industry response to the Fukushima event, allowing for more effective integrated response to future events.
  • Develop and Implement a Strategic Communications Plan (NEI): focus on managing the industry’s strategic communications and outreach campaigns to recover policymaker and public support for nuclear energy.
  • Develop and Implement the Industry's Regulatory Response (NEI): focus on managing the industry’s regulatory interactions and resolution of applicable industry regulatory issues from the incident.
  • Participate and Coordinate with International Organizations (INPO/EPRI): focus on ensuring the results from international investigations are captured and effectively used to inform actions with the other building blocks.
  • Provide Technical Support and R&D Coordination (EPRI/NSSS Owners’ Groups): focus on existing technical solutions and research and development activities and deliverables necessary to address recommended actions of this plan.

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