The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved an Exelon Generation request to relocate and consolidate its emergency operations function for Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant from Barstow to Coatesville, Pa.
“The presidentially appointed commission that oversees the NRC has approved the relocation of the Emergency Operations Facility and Joint Information Center or the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said in an email to The Enterprise. “The decision was unanimous.”
Sheehan reported NRC staff determined the proposed relocation of the EOF would “fulfill necessary emergency response functions and meet applicable regulations.” The commission voted in favor of Exelon’s move request based on staff recommendation.
The NRC, which has oversight of 99 nuclear reactors nationwide, held a public meeting with Exelon in March of last year regarding the energy company’s plans to move the nuclear power plant’s EOF and JIC to Pennsylvania.
Both facilities are used in the event of an emergency at the plant. They are also used for training exercises to examine the nuclear plant’s emergency response. The EOF is where plant site leadership and emergency responders from federal, state and local governments are able to coordinate response and recovery efforts in the event of a plant emergency.
The JIC is a dedicated information center for federal, state and local public information officers and the news media. Both are currently located in Barstow, 11 miles from the Lusby plant.
Currently, Exelon uses the Coatesville Emergency Operation Facility location for emergency response activities for its Limerick Generating Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station and Three Mile Island Nuclear Generation Station.
Plant communications manager Janna Jackson said the company is pleased to have the Commission’s approval on the relocation and consolidation of the emergency operations facility for the Lusby nuclear plant with the existing Exelon joint EOF located in Coatesville.
In August 2018, Exelon submitted a formal license amendment to initiate the move request, which had been under review until now.
Exelon previously told The Calvert Recorder that the plant’s technical experts will remain at the plant. In addition, Exelon proposed shifting the Technical Support Center, its onsite emergency operations, from inside the Lusby plant’s protected area to an office building outside of the protected area, but still onsite. Exelon said TSC’s move to an alternate location on the campus will allow for proper expansion and technical upgrades.
Communications and media relations director Linda Vassallo said the new board of Calvert County commissioners is aware that the NRC affirmed a vote for the relocations.
“The NRC approval has no impact on operations in the Calvert County Emergency Operations Center or our ability to communicate with the public in response to an unlikely incident at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. The board continues to support this effort,” Vassallo said.
As of press time, Vassallo said she is not aware of plans for the Barstow facility.
During its review, NRC considered whether the Pennsylvania-based facility had adequate space for members of an NRC site team and federal, state and local responders during an emergency involving one or more of the nuclear power plants supported by the EOF. And it also determined whether there was additional space for conducting briefings with emergency response personnel, along with communication capabilities with other company and off-site emergency response facilities.
Other factors taken into consideration included the facility’s capability to support response to events occurring simultaneously at more than one nuclear plant site if the emergency operations facility serves more than one site; and for obtaining and displaying plant data and radiological information for each reactor at a nuclear plant site and for each nuclear plant site that the Coatesville facility serves.
“We look forward to utilizing this facility to demonstrate our continued ability to protect the health and safety of the public during upcoming planned exercises,” Jackson said, awaiting final approval before a move date can be set.
The commission’s approval was only the first phase of the process.
Calvert Cliffs personnel must now complete an emergency drill from the Coatesville locale before year’s end in order to demonstrate there is no loss in emergency preparedness functions or capabilities resulting from the proposed changes.
Sheehan said a two-site simultaneous drill involving the Lusby nuclear plant and one of Exelon’s other nuclear stations located in Pennsylvania is scheduled for Nov. 15.
The drill will include participation from each affected site’s technical support center, operations support center, simulator or control cell. NRC and affected off-site emergency response organizations at the state and local level will be invited to observe or participate in the drill.
NRC staff will observe the demonstration drill to further verify the ability of the Coatesville EOF to perform the functions.
After the drill, a final safety evaluation report must be issued by NRC before a license amendment is completed. Once completed, Exelon will be able to move its emergency operations to Coatesville.