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Nuclear trade group reports no serious problems


Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 08:43:53 -0700 (PDT)
From: cabeal <>
Subject: Nuclear trade group reports no serious problems


WND Exclusive

Nuclear plants race
to meet Y2K deadline
July 1 is cutoff date
for non-compliant facilities

Editor's note: This the first of a two-part series.

By David Franke
© 1999
WASHINGTON -- Federal nuclear regulators have given America's nuclear
plants until July 1 to demonstrate they are ready for Y2K. Some of
them won't make the deadline.

Not to worry, says the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear trade
group responsible for getting facilities Y2K-ready. NEI says work not
expected to be completed by July 1 could have an impact on power
generation, but not on safety. And, it adds, all those problems will
be fixed well before Jan. 1, 2000.

NEI officials explained their progress this week to senior managers
and staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency
responsible for the safe operation of nuclear facilities.
WorldNetDaily was the only press to cover the meeting -- an indication
of the print media's lack of concern about nuclear safety issues
related to Y2K.

Jim Davis, director of operations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, was
the group's chief spokesman at the meeting. He was accompanied by
Ralph Beedle, NEI's senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

"Safety is our number one consideration," Davis said, "and we're
satisfied we can shut down any plant safely if necessary." Having
taken care of the safety issue, he added, "the broader issue is our
continued ability to generate power, and we've spent more time on

Davis explained that the July 1 reports will cover the Y2K-readiness
of "critical systems -- those needed for safety and power generation
-- as well as important systems which, while not critical, impact the
facility as a whole." Payroll systems, for example, are very important
for business continuity but do not have a direct impact on safety or
power generation.

"The industry has looked at approximately 200,000 items," Davis
reported, "and of these, about 10,000 -- or 5 percent -- have required
some sort of remediation. We've been collecting data on how many
plants have 'open items' that won't be ready. We will follow up on
those open items, getting a monthly report from those facilities, and
we plan to make this list public on our website."

In March 1999, NEI had identified 62 "open items" at 20 facilities. He
wouldn't speculate on how many of those are now remediated, but did
give some examples of the kinds of problems still to be fixed.

"Four plants have had problems with feedwater regulation," Davis said.
"This is not critical," he explained, but you have to close down the
plant for five days to fix the problem, "and it's appropriate to do
this in the fall rather than during the peak summer season. Also, in
each case the facility has experience doing this. Three of the four
have already scheduled their maintenance outage."

(In the course of operating a nuclear reactor, some water is always
being removed for cleanup and replaced with new water. "Feedwater
regulation" refers to this computer control function.)

Some facilities are also reporting problems with their plant process
computers. "Plants work perfectly well without process computers,"
Beedle added in, "but I still have to comply with regulations and
report that kind of problem."

The plant process computer gives plant operators a comprehensive
color-coded "read" on the plant. It monitors the major plant systems
and their functions. If there's an irregularity in one of the systems,
that information is fed to the computer, and if that anomaly
continues, an alarm is triggered.

"What can you say about critical systems?" asked Frank Miraglia, a
senior official at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "Will all of
those be ready by July 1?"

"Are we finding anything that would affect our ability to shut down a
plant safely? No," responded Beedle. "Are we finding anything that
would affect power continuity? Yes."

"Safety is not the issue at this point," Davis added. "Everything we
are addressing has to do with power continuity."

"My projection," Davis continued, "is that we're going to find a short
list of problems on July 1. Since most plants will have at least one
or two ways to handle those problems, we'll find no issues that will
affect safety or require shutdown."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Electric Institute
plan to compile and evaluate the facility reports as they arrive, and
then issue a report to the public somewhere between July 7 and July

Tomorrow: The nuclear contingency plans.

David Franke may be reached by e-mail.

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