Nuclear plants gear up with FLEX to prevent disaster
Sitting on a hill about a half-mile from the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant is a hulking concrete and steel bunker. It is jammed full of new trucks, trailers, portable generators, pumps, hoses, electrical cables and a raft of other emergency equipment.
The plant’s owners and workers hope they never have to use any of it.
The FLEX building, as it is called, is the centerpiece of the U.S. nuclear industry’s response to the natural disaster that crippled a power plant near Fukushima, Japan, four years ago. Hit by a tsunami after a devastating earthquake, three of the plant’s nuclear reactors suffered partial meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing more than 200,000 people from their homes.
Now every nuclear plant in the United States is gearing up with extra vehicles and equipment for use in an emergency to prevent such disasters.
“The lesson learned from Fukushima was you have to be ready for the unimaginable,” said George Gellrich, site vice president for Exelon Corp., owner of the plant 70 miles south of Baltimore on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.