Commentary by Brew Barron, President and CEO, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG)
As a leading producer of safe, reliable and economical electricity from nuclear energy in Maryland and New York, we take seriously our role to communicate how the Japan situation impacts our industry and energy facilities.
On behalf of my colleagues at Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, LLC (CENG), I extend our sincere sympathies to those suffering due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami. Our hearts are with those in Japan and those who have family and friends in the region. Our shareholders (Constellation Energy and the EDF Group) are providing financial donations, and the worlds nuclear industry is providing supplies, and technical and humanitarian support.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of the plant employees and emergency response workers at Fukushima Daiichi, we understand conditions at all six of the reactors have significantly improved. The primary reactor containment structures of each of the three reactors that were in operation at the time of the tsunami are all reported to be intact. We also understand that radiation levels both on and off-site are decreasing.
Nuclear energy is our nations current largest source of low carbon electricity and is a significant producer of 24/7 electricity. It helps preserve our Earths climate, avoids ground-level ozone formation and acid rain. The 104 U.S. reactors produce about 20 percent of our countrys electricity, with safety and environmental stewardship as our goals.
I have worked in the nuclear energy industry for four decades. Safety is our passion. Nothing comes before the protection of our employees and communities. As one CENG employee mentioned to me recently, safety is part of our DNA. We will never waver from our safety commitment. Our industrys highest commitments are safety and continuous improvement. CENG employees live by these overriding principles, and as a result, our nuclear power plants are safe.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, all U.S. nuclear energy facilities underwent comprehensive reviews. The objective of these safety and security assessments was to evaluate severe scenarios that are beyond existing regulatory requirements to identify extraordinary and additional protective measures that assure U.S. plants can withstand extreme events.
We have invested millions of dollars into CENGs Calvert Cliffs facility in Maryland, and Ginna and Nine Mile Point sites in New York to make them even more secure and safe.
We agree that a fresh review of the industry with a focus on protective actions in the event of unusual natural events is appropriate. We are a business built on a foundation of continuous learning and reaching new levels of operational excellence. As nuclear energy facility operators, safety is our number one priority, and our job is to protect the public and the environment.
Even before there are lessons learned from the events in Japan, all U.S. companies with nuclear power plants are already verifying their capability to maintain safety even in the face of severe challenges, including natural disasters. Our CENG sites are designed, built and maintained to sustain severe man-made and natural disasters. We also have multiple safety and security features and redundant backup systems.
An integral part of our safety commitment is to keep the public and government officials fully informed in the unlikely event of an accident impacting any facility. We routinely conduct intense training exercises and drills to test our ability to effectively implement our emergency response plans with local, state and federal government officials as well as with the media. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) independently measures our performance in these areas and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluates the state and local responses to those scenarios.
The communities in which we operate are important to us. Our outstanding employees are actively involved donating time, money and talent to many charitable organizations, mentoring students, coaching youth sports teams, and supporting other civic, charitable and religious groups.
CENGs roots are deep in the communities we serve. We operate with the communitys consent and value our strong partnerships with local, state, regional and national leaders and organizations.
We feel fortunate to operate our business and employ thousands of outstanding people in Maryland and New York. Our dedicated employees are committed to performing work at the highest levels of safety and operational excellence in producing electricity for millions of homes and businesses.
Our Calvert Cliffs facility in Lusby, MD, employs more than 900 people. Its reactors are licensed until 2034 (Unit 1) and 2036 (Unit 2). The site has also received numerous honors for its achievements, including the ISO 14001 certification and the American Nuclear Society (ANS) award for stellar Operational Excellence. At Calvert alone, we have invested nearly $27 million in security and safety upgrades. We are proud of the difference our employees are making.
Rest assured, we will maintain our unwavering commitment to safety and our staunch support for the continuous application of lessons learned.
About Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG)
CENG (a joint venture of Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: CEG) and EDF Group, SA) based in Baltimore, Maryland, is a leading producer of safe and reliable nuclear power. The company owns and operates five nuclear reactors at three sites in Maryland and New York. CENGs core value is nuclear and personal safety. Nuclear energy is Americas largest source of low carbon electricity, producing no greenhouse gases. It helps preserve the Earths climate, avoids ground level ozone formation and acid rain. The 104 U.S. reactors produce about 20 percent of our countrys electricity, with safety and environmental stewardship as our goals.