RALEIGH, N.C. (March 8, 2012) – In the year since the tsunamis that caused accidents at nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, Progress Energy has worked with the U.S. nuclear industry, the Nuclear Energy Institute and global resources to understand the events and implement changes to make the company’s plants even safer and better protected.
The company’s response includes in-depth inspections and analyses, physical changes, additional equipment to monitor and respond to potential emergencies, and plans for additional safety and security initiatives.
Progress Energy Chief Nuclear Officer James Scarola has been named as a special liaison for the U.S. nuclear industry’s Fukushima response. In that role, Scarola is helping lead the continuing effort to analyze lessons learned from the Fukushima events and response, and work with regulatory agencies, the industry and other stakeholders to implement enhancement plans at each of the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear plants.
Immediately following the March 11, 2011, accident at Fukushima Daiichi, Progress Energy conducted thorough inspections at each of its four nuclear sites located in the Carolinas and Florida. Plant personnel reviewed each plant’s emergency-response capabilities, written procedures and engineering specifications to verify each site’s ability to respond in the unlikely event of station blackout or record flood.
In 2012, Progress Energy is working to establish industry best practices and improve the safety standards and margin. The U.S. approach to safety at nuclear power plants is based on three layers of safety: protection, mitigation and emergency response. A revised strategy represents a significant expansion of the second layer — the ability to protect the plant and public in extreme external events that may exceed those for which the plant was designed.
Meanwhile, the nuclear industry is in the process of reanalyzing natural disasters, including earthquakes and flooding, to assess the state of readiness in light of the Japan events. U.S. nuclear companies are also adding emergency equipment, such as portable pumps and generators, to perform key safety functions if off-site electrical supplies and several backup power sources are lost to permanently installed safety systems due to natural and/or man-made causes.
Among the additional pieces of equipment, Progress Energy is adding, at each station, a high-capacity pump to maintain the ability to cool the reactor core in an unlikely accident, additional diesel generators for power restoration to critical equipment, and other associated support components (i.e., lights, fans, small generators, direct-current power supplies, pre-staged tool kits, fuel transfer equipment, hoses, cords, fittings, etc.). These systems and pieces of equipment are in addition to the numerous layers of safety measures and systems previously in place.
“At Progress Energy, we are committed to the relentless pursuit of safety,” Scarola said. “We know we need to learn every possible lesson from Japan, and apply those lessons in our quest for continuous improvement. While our nuclear power plants are built to the highest standards, it’s our job to continue to raise those standards by learning from Fukushima — just as we have from best practices and past challenges alike. While there are numerous studies that have validated the safety of our U.S. nuclear plants, our commitment is to make the future operation even safer than it is today.”
Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 500 energy company with 23,000 megawatts of generation capacity and approximately $9 billion in annual revenues. Progress Energy includes two major electric utilities that serve about 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. The company has earned the Edison Electric Institute's Edison Award, the industry's highest honor, in recognition of its operational excellence, and was the first utility to receive the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Founder's Award for customer service. The company is pursuing a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, which includes aggressive energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. Progress Energy celebrated a century of service in 2008. Visit the company’s website at www.progress-energy.com.
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