Ten Japanese chief nuclear officers toured the U.S. nuclear energy industry’s new emergency response center in Phoenix on Wednesday as part of a series of briefings with American chief nuclear officers this week. The Japanese CNOs toured the response center as part of the reciprocal visit scheduled following the September 2013 visit by U.S. chief nuclear officers to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site and the first round of discussions on safety and preparedness.
Hailed as historic, the reciprocal visits are being conducted to facilitate sharing of lessons learned and discuss ways to improve safety within the American and Japanese nuclear energy sectors. Some of the topics being addressed during this week’s meetings include emergency operating procedures, accident mitigation strategies, safety culture advancement, the U.S. nuclear industry’s voluntary implementation of additional safety measures to respond to extreme natural events, emergency communications and drills, and the recovery under way at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
“We continue to have frank exchanges that build the foundation for continuous improvement,” said Anthony Pietrangelo, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. “Safety is our industry’s top priority, and the exchange of experience, lessons learned, challenges encountered and safety enhancements, drives safety to even higher standards. By working with our Japanese counterparts, we can share areas in which we have enhanced operational safety, improved our safety cultures, and advanced our abilities to respond effectively to extreme events. We look forward to ongoing dialogue with our Japanese colleagues.”
The Phoenix facility is one of two national response centers established by the U.S. nuclear energy industry to enhance safety based on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident; the other facility is in Memphis, Tenn. The facilities are capable of delivering full sets of portable safety equipment, electric generators, radiation protection equipment, pumps and other emergency response equipment to any U.S. nuclear energy facility within 24 hours after an extreme natural event.
The Japanese nuclear officers were welcomed to the Phoenix response center by Michael Pacilio, president and chief nuclear officer of Exelon Nuclear. Pacilio also serves as executive sponsor for the national response centers on NEI’s Fukushima Response Steering Committee.
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to show our Japanese colleagues the completed national response center, which adds yet another layer of nuclear safety to our nuclear facilities as part of the industry’s FLEX strategy,” Pacilio said. “These response centers enable the industry, if needed, to supply additional emergency equipment to a plant site within 24 hours. They are yet another example of our industry’s relentless pursuit of, and our commitment to, nuclear safety.”
Before returning home at the end of the week, the Japanese CNOs will tour the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix. Randy Edington, executive vice president and chief nuclear officer of Arizona Public Service Co. which owns and operates the Palo Verde nuclear plant, said the utility is pleased to provide the Palo Verde tour.
“We are honored to welcome our Japanese partners to Arizona and continue the nuclear energy industry’s commitment to making a safe industry even safer. Whether in the U.S. or abroad, a long-standing hallmark of our industry has been to constantly apply an aggressive approach to lessons learned,” Edington said. “American nuclear energy plant operators have worked cooperatively for decades in a shared commitment to operate our plants in an ever-increasing, safe way. Since the 2011 accident at Fukushima, we have maintained extensive dialogue with our Japanese counterparts to learn from their operating experience in order to enhance the nuclear energy programs in both countries. We look forward to continuing this positive relationship in the future.”
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.