Saturday, March 28, 2020

Nuclear Energy Institute Advises DOE Coronavirus Could Interrupt Nuclear Power Plant Refueling Operations, Including 4 Plants In PA

On March 26, POWER Magazine reported the Nuclear Energy Institute advised the U.S. Department of Energy regular refueling operations could be interrupted without actions by the federal government and states to ensure nuclear workers, suppliers, and vendors have access to nuclear plants and personal protective equipment during planned outages in 2020.
All but two of the nation’s nuclear plants have scheduled outages this year, including the Susquehanna, Beaver Valley and Limerick nuclear power plants this spring and Peach Bottom in the fall.
Nuclear plants need a fresh load of fuel once every 18 to 24 months and reactors typically shut down for two to four weeks of intense work, including maintenance that can only be performed while the reactor is not operating.  
The Institute said each plant typically brings in several hundred specialized workers for this work over a typical period of 30-60 days, which includes activities in advance of and following the outage. These workers typically stay in hotels or board with local families, and eat in restaurants.
In the course of performing these outages, and in routine operations, nuclear power plants utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies for radiological protection. During the pandemic, these supplies are supplemented by medical PPE and supplies needed to protect workers and minimize the potential for spread.
The Institute pointed out nuclear plants are taking steps to limit the risks of COVID-19 during these outages.
The Nuclear Energy Institute asked for several supporting actions--
-- Ensure that the Federal designation of essential workers includes workers supporting nuclear operations and refueling outages;
-- Allow travel to the plants for the performance of these essential activities;
-- Maintain hotel and food services to support these essential activities;
-- Permit unfettered access to travel across state lines and in communities in order to reach plant sites, lodging, and food services;
-- Provide priority for PPE, in particular, surgeons’ gloves, sanitized wipes, dust masks, and disposable thermometers;
-- Provide priority for COVID-19 testing kits and necessary radiological and medical protective equipment and supplies for nuclear workers; and
-- Permit international workers who perform highly specialized functions to travel into the U.S. and establish protocols immediately to enable their safe entry.
On March 26, the Institute told POWER Magazine, “We continue to work with the Administration to address how best to support the industry and our workforce during this time. We know that nuclear power plant operation and continued electricity is critical to powering our hospitals and keeping the lights on in our homes and emergency centers.”
(Photo: Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant, Talen Energy.)
Related Article:
[Posted: March 28, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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