March 24-- In the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan which wrecked some of the country's nuclear power plants, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is "confident, but not complacent" when it comes to the safety of nuclear plants like Plant Hatch south of Vidalia.
Joey Ledford with the NRC regional office in Atlanta says,"The amount of emergency, systems and facilities planning that go into these plants is unsurpassed. We remain confident in safety. That does not mean we are complacent. We will continue to look at upgrading safety and security and once the events in Japan are totally concluded, we will draw lessons learned from those events and those things will be incorporated into our plants around the country."
The NRC has two on-site inspectors at Plant Hatch who are the public's eyes and ears, "and they're there everyday to insure the plant is operated in a way that protects the public safety and the environment," Ledford reports.
"Our industry is run on a concept that is known as defense in depth. That basically means that every system has a backup and every backup has a backup," Ledford says.
"A great amount of planning goes into insuring that all of these systems remain functional. We get worked up when we find out there's a problem with one of four emergency diesel generators at a plant. You wouldn't believe the amount of regulatory activity goes into just making sure a diesel generator is ready in the event of loss of offsite power like what happened in Japan. Basically, not detail is left unaddressed and if you live nearby, you can take some confidence in that," he says.