Comprehensive emergency response plans are required by law.
All nuclear energy facilities in America are required to develop and test detailed emergency response plans to protect the public. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviews and approves these plans. The NRC also coordinates approval of these plans with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). State and local agencies develop detailed plans for the population within the 10-mile emergency planning zone, including plans for an evacuation in the unlikely event of an emergency. Zones out to 50 miles are geared toward protecting public health along with monitoring and protecting the food supply. Nuclear facilities are also responsible for sampling water, milk, soil and crops within 50 miles of a plant.
individual plant profile pages to download emergency plans specific to each nuclear plant community.
Post-September 11 thinking informs emergency plans.
The NRC now considers new threat scenarios and protections in emergency preparedness in light of the threat of terrorist attacks. After September 11, 2001, all those involved in emergency planning reevaluated those plans and put additional practices in place. Exelon Generation has open lines of communications with the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Plans are carefully, regularly tested.
Exelon Generation - like all nuclear facility operators - regularly tests emergency plans. Local, state and federal emergency response organizations participate. Every two years, we must conduct a full-scale emergency exercise with those same officials and organizations. If there's ever an actual emergency, the state's emergency management leaders would instruct the public to shelter or evacuate.
Our plans help in other emergencies.
Exelon Nuclear invests millions of dollars every year so we are prepared for any man-made or natural disaster. We also train local first responders and emergency personal.
Several communities have used off-site nuclear facility emergency plans in response to other types of emergencies. During the October 2007 wildfires in California, county emergency officials drew on relationships and communications links they had established during their years of planning for nuclear-related events.
Safety is ensured by continuous monitoring, rigorous inspection.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has permanent, on-site inspectors at all nuclear power plants. Environmental monitoring reports are regularly submitted to the NRC and are available to the public on the NRC website.
Many state environmental protection or public health departments also assign staff to monitor nuclear plants, and some conduct their own sampling and testing programs.
Nuclear plants are robust structures with redundant safety systems.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires all nuclear plants to be able to withstand the most severe natural phenomena historically reported in a 200-mile area around each plant.
Exelon Nuclear's plants are designed to withstand extreme environmental hazards like floods and earthquakes. Watertight doors, elevation of equipment above potential flood levels and engineered flood barriers protect emergency systems. Plant foundations, structures and equipment are designed to withstand severe ground motion and flooding.
This means there are redundant, diverse and reliable safety systems to supply water to the reactor core. Every safety system has at least one independent back-up system and many have more than one.
Plant safety systems are also run by multiple, redundant power sources. Certain equipment is designed to automatically shut down the plant if the need arises due to a condition outside of normal operations.
A lesson from Fukushima.
FLEX is the U.S. nuclear industry's major step in addressing the critical problems encountered at Fukushima Daiichi: loss of power and reactor cooling capability.
Vital emergency equipment - generators, battery packs, pumps, air compressors and battery chargers - is now kept in multiple, secure, offsite locations around the country. In a system with layers of built-in redundancy, FLEX provides yet another layer of backup power after a catastrophic event.
Multiple physical barriers.
The first barrier is the fuel itself: the solid, ceramic uranium pellets.
Pellets are sealed in metal fuel rods. The fuel rods are made of the metal alloy zirconium, which resists heat, radiation and corrosion. The rods are bundled together into fuel assemblies.
Fuel assemblies make up the nuclear reactor core. The reactor core is inside the reactor vessel, which has steel walls that are about six inches thick. The reactor vessel sits inside a containment structure. That's made of steel-reinforced concrete and is about five feet thick.
All of these layers are inside the reactor building, which is made of steel-reinforced concrete, about four feet thick.
Strict security, even before post-September 11 measures were added.
By design and construction, nuclear facilities are very difficult to penetrate. That, plus a well-armed paramilitary security force – and after September 11, 2001, multiple backup safety systems – delivers layer upon layer of safety.
The nuclear energy industry maintains very strict security to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access to critical equipment or approaching close enough to harm the facility either by land or air. America’s 62 nuclear sites are protected by sophisticated surveillance systems and approximately 9,000 highly trained, armed officers.
Our nuclear plant operators are vetted, trained, and licensed by the NRC.
Before they become Exelon employees, job applicants must pass thorough background checks. Exelon then invests in training programs - both initial training and continuous programs for existing, experienced operations staff.
Much of our operations training are done in a full-scale electronic simulator of a control room.
Initial training includes 12 weeks in the classroom, 25 weeks in the control room simulator and 16 weeks of on-the-job training. Once an employee is licensed by the NRC, that operator will continually train by spending one week in a control room simulator for every five weeks spent on shift in the control room. Even our most senior reactor operators receive training every six weeks, for a total of 8.5 weeks of training every year.