Making Sure SAFER Resources Are Ready To Go

Jack Davis
Director, Japan Lessons Learned Division

mitigation_strategies_infographic_r4Part of the U.S. nuclear power industry’s response to the NRC’s post-Fukushima Mitigation Strategies Order involves emergency equipment centers in Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix, Ariz. The centers have multiple sets of generators, pumps and other equipment. The centers would send needed equipment to a U.S. nuclear plant to maintain safety functions indefinitely if an event disabled that plant’s installed safety systems.

The NRC’s been reviewing how an industry group, the Strategic Alliance for FLEX Emergency Response (SAFER), can move equipment from the response centers to plants. We observed two demonstrations SAFER ran in July and reviewed SAFER’s equipment, procedures, and deployment strategy. Overall, the NRC staff concludes that having the response centers and the group’s plans and procedures in place will enable plants to comply with the final phase of the Order.

The group has contracted with Federal Express (for both truck and aircraft shipment) to get supplies to a plant within 24 hours of a request. SAFER’s documentation of FedEx’s capabilities included a proven ability to work with the Federal Aviation Administration to get proper access to otherwise restricted airspace in the event that equipment must be flown to a nuclear power plant site. 

One SAFER demonstration sent equipment by road from Memphis to the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania. The NRC staff noted some areas for improvement, such as clarifying who’s responsible for unloading equipment at a site or where the equipment’s first tank of fuel will come from. SAFER responded by adding details to its plans and beefing up its training program.

The other demonstration simulated airlift of equipment from Phoenix to the Surry plant in Virginia. After the NRC shared its observations, SAFER gave our staff additional details on how it would obtain helicopters to bring supplies to a plant if area roads are impassable.

 We also reviewed a report on the Memphis center’s test of packing the equipment to efficiently load and fit onto FedEx’s planes. Although the test generated a delivery schedule a few minutes longer than the industry expected, the NRC is satisfied that SAFER has applied lessons learned to streamline its approach and ensure SAFER can meet its own deadlines.

 Our website’s Japan Lessons Learned section can give you more information about the mitigation strategy requirements and related guidance.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

9 thoughts on “Making Sure SAFER Resources Are Ready To Go”

  1. i wish america could just build a mega nuclear plant say in greenland or some desert and then supply the whole world electricity because some african countries will never get the simple thing of electricity supply right.

  2. You can read the details on requirements for a plant’s Mitigation Strategies on the NRC website:

    Many of the plants’ integrated plans for the strategies are also available on our website:

    In certain circumstances, details may be withheld if the systems involved would also play a part in keeping the reactor safe if attackers caused large fires or explosions on the site.

    Scott Burnell

  3. Good to hear Scott.
    Why are the details of these preparations kept secret? There is just way too much secrecy associated w the NRC. The NRC behaves like the CIA. Public confidence is enhanced by openness and transparency, something that the Commission only gives lip-service too.

  4. Each site’s approach to meeting Phase 3 requirements accounts for the possibility of limited access to the site. There are no instances of Phase 3 approaches that deal with delivering items that would challenge any building load limits.

    Scott Burnell

  5. Like the ability to deliver needed equipment to the affected site by air if necessary. If a nuclear plant is swamped by a flood this equipment would have to be delivered on a roof top. Rooftops at these sites are typical construction grade. They are not designed as helo landing pads or for the delivery of heavy pallets. Are roofs at these sites being upgraded?

  6. All the SAFER equipment CAN be airlifted. The response centers have contracted out to both land and helicopter transport groups and all equipment is sized so that it can be delivered on site via air if necessary and still be delivered within the 24 hour timeframe.

    Also there is still no evidence that shows the earthquake caused any leaks of the primary reactor coolant system at Fukushima. In fact, there is more and more overwhelming evidence that is not the case. Reference: (see attachment 1), , and ,

  7. Demand for safer, reliable and transparent nuclear energy is increasing throughout the world to eradicate poverty, provide employment, develop new infrastructure, factories, cities, hospitals, feed and uplift the lives of billions of uneducated and starving people and reduce thermal pollution. NRC can act as a Leading Model Global Agency in helping achieve this goal, which will indirectly promote world peace and reduce terrorism and drug trafficking. Chernobyl, Fukushima, Mihama, Three Mile Island and Shutdown of SONGS 2 & 3 (as concluded by NRC ASLB and NRC OIG) was caused by Human Errors and Equipment Failures. Nuclear and Public Safety should be based on Defense-in-Depth and Preventive Approach and not-after-fact Mitigating Approach and NRC/FEMA will deal with the consequences of an accident after it happens. Because of lack of budget, manpower, training and Industry/Utility/Lobby/Political Pressure, NRC may have learnt lessons but has not been able to apply nuclear safety lessons in the case of SONGS as concluded by NRC ASLB and NRC OIG. Therefore NRC has to learn to respect verbatim & strict enforcement of regulations and not cave into Industry?Utility Pressure as NRC AIT Team did in case of SONGS Senior Leadership Team.

  8. Jack Davis – A good first steps, but what happens if the USA gets hit will a really big Quake that also takes out Reactor infurstructure that also has to be replaced before the backup power can be used?

    Fukushima had a large amount of damage caused by the Big Quake that started the reactor coolant leakage “problem” and that could easily happen here if a beyond basis event occurred at the same time!

    I’d also suggest that all critical equipment be stored on pallets and/or configured so that it can be air lifted by large transport helicopters so that should any roadways be blocked, replacements could be delivered via air after a disaster.

  9. This additional layer to support defense in depth at our nuclear plants is simply outstanding. The industry, these contractors, and the NRC are to be commended. I cannot think of a single safety initiative that has done more to make safe even safer! Now one call does it all. One if by land, two if by air! (:-)

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