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Millstone Operators Assess Safety Measures

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Millstone Power Station (Courtesy Dominion Resources, Inc)

Millstone Power Station (Courtesy Dominion Resources, Inc)

By STEPHEN SINGER, Associated Press

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) _ More than seven months after an earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima plant, operators of Connecticut’s sole nuclear plant said Wednesday they’re reassessing numerous operations to ensure safety at the shoreline plant.

Officials of the Millstone Power Station said at a media tour they are working to make sure storage buildings can withstand earthquakes and that the site on Long Island Sound in southeast Connecticut has enough pumps, generators and other equipment in an emergency.
Skip Jordan, site vice president at Millstone, said he also wants equipment to be compatible with military hardware so the nuclear power plant can work with the nearby submarine base, Coast Guard and Electric Boat, a manufacturer of submarines.

Immediately after the March meltdown, Millstone assessed its operations to determine “where our vulnerabilities are, where to make improvements,” he said.

“We identified some small things,” Jordan said. “Where would we store diesel fuel? Where would we plug in equipment?”

In late August, the largest earthquake to hit Virginia in 117 years appeared to exceed what a nuclear power plant northwest of Richmond was built to sustain. The two North Anna reactors are among 27 in the eastern and central U.S. that a preliminary Nuclear Regulatory Commission review said may need upgrades.

The North Anna and Millstone plants are operated by Dominion Resources Inc. in Richmond, Va.

NRC inspectors have increased their scrutiny at plants where the problems happened. Beyond that, industry officials and academics say the incidents could lead the NRC to formally warn nuclear plant operators about the recent failures and prompt utilities to reevaluate what can disable a generator. Some believe these experiences may factor into upcoming rules the NRC will issue in response to the crisis in Japan.

Millstone provided the first media tour in years to tout nuclear energy and the plant’s role as a supplier of nearly half the electricity used in Connecticut.

“Not everyone likes nuclear power. That’s fine,” Jordan said. “People were concerned about the impact of Fukushima.”

“A lot of people’s knowledge about nuclear power is from `The Simpsons,”’ he said, referring to the cartoon program in which the father, Homer Simpson, is a bumbling worker at the local power plant. “That’s not a good icon to have as a role model.”

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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