Last week Calvert Cliffs closed its doors to their new FLEX building, which was built in response to the natural disaster near Fukushima, Japan 4 years ago. This is the 6th of Exelon’s 14 nuclear power plants to finish construction, the rest of Exelon’s fleet are still under construction and are ordered to be finished by the NRC by the end of the year.
Nearly one-third of the post-Fukushima investment at Calvert Cliffs has gone into the FLEX building and its contents. The structure’s steel-reinforced walls and roof are 21 inches thick. Its three big steel doors, with Kevlar netting on the inside, can stop flying projectiles such as trees and telephone poles uprooted by wind. The building is filled with new trailers, portable generators, pumps, hoses, electrical cables and a raft of other emergency equipment. It holds at least two of every type of equipment that might be needed to restore power and cooling water to the plant’s two reactors, should the on-site emergency backup equipment fail.
Plant officials say they have enough emergency gear and supplies to keep going for the first 24 hours of a crisis. For anything longer, the industry has established two regional response centers in Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix, stocked with items that can be airlifted to any plant in need.
“The whole goal of this is to add an additional layer of safety,” said Tom Kauffman, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group. And beyond that, he noted, the emergency gear is standardized industrywide, so nearby plants could share theirs with one in distress.