Communication for Sustainable Development

The Future of Energy Is In Our Hands

With ongoing concerns about the economy, a sustainable U.S. energy policy is now more important than ever. The future of energy security in America depends on our ability to take ownership of our energy production. Central to this objective will be ensuring a diverse, domestic energy supply that is clean, cost-efficient, and reliable- and most importantly, it must be safe.
Events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility in Japan have raised questions about nuclear safety here at home.
Even though there are clear differences between the Japanese and U.S. approaches to the operation of nuclear energy facilities, answering these questions and applying every possible lesson from the accident in Japan will be central to ensuring that we can continue to count on the country's largest 24/7 clean energy source.
From a pragmatic approach, nuclear energy must always be a part of our country's clean energy portfolio – it produces 20 percent of our electricity, comprising more than 70 percent of our emissions-free energy. With the demand for electricity projected to grow 28 percent by 2035, it is imperative that we be able to meet that rising demand cleanly. This is our energy reality.
American nuclear energy facilities and their operators are trained and equipped to manage extreme, natural and plant-centered events. They are trained to expect the unexpected – and plan for it. Over the years, the industry has made significant improvements to physical structures and in emergency response capabilities to help effectively manage extreme, abnormal events.
Following the events in Japan, the independent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), as well as operators of the nation's nuclear energy facilities nationwide have all renewed their commitment to continue to improve safety at all of our plants. For instance, the NRC is mandating new steps to ensure facilities can continue to withstand the effects of natural disasters. This may include locating backup emergency cooling equipment away from areas that may be susceptible to flooding or damage from earthquakes. Also under close review are the procedures and equipment needed should events occur simultaneously at more than one reactor at a single nuclear energy facility.
This is not the first time the country's nuclear energy industry has taken such measures. The industry is focused on continuous improvement in all areas of operation. After the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, the industry thoroughly reviewed security risks and invested about $2 billion in security upgrades . In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the industry is once again recalibrating its best practices to ensure the highest standards of safety and security are met.
The NRC and many of our nation's leaders recognize that U.S. reactors are safe, and I certainly agree. This consensus is based on the multiple layers of protection that fortify each nuclear energy facility in the U.S.; the continuous review and inspection of each facility; and the decades of sustained performance with record levels of safety and reliability.
Nuclear energy is a vital part of America's electricity portfolio and an energy-independent future. The industry is taking important steps today to make nuclear energy facilities even safer and ensure they will be available, because they are a major part of a more secure, clean-energy future.


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