Harris Nuclear knows a healthy forest takes work

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the natural environments around Duke Energy’s nuclear facilities and what Duke Energy is doing to enhance those areas.

Forestry 1

A Duke Energy employee works to beautify the area around Harris Nuclear. You can see the site’s cooling tower in the background.

Located on more than 30,000 acres of land, 20,000 of which are available for public use, the Harris Nuclear Plant is surrounded by a lush forest. While there is an enormous amount of natural beauty in the region, the thick woods around Harris are no coincidence.

Each year between January and mid-March, it’s common to see tree planters renewing Duke Energy’s forest around the Harris Nuclear Plant. This year the site will reforest roughly 475 acres around the Harris site or about two percent of the land Duke Energy owns.

Trees are planted on an 8- by 10-foot grid resulting in roughly 545 trees per acre. This year alone, forestry crews planted more than 250,000 seedlings on lands adjoining the Harris Plant. This is more trees than were harvested.

The planted seedlings will grow and fully occupy the site in 12 to 15 years. The young trees will begin to compete against each other for soil, water and nutrients. When trees compete for resources, they become stressed and are candidates for natural mortality and pine beetle infestations.

Harris trees

More than 250,000 trees were planted around Harris Nuclear in 2014.

Trees showing poor growth are sold and harvested, allowing the residual trees to continue growing into higher-valued products. Duke Energy participates with the North Carolina State University Cooperative Tree Improvement Program (NCTIP) through American Forest Management (AFM). Extensive research is conducted to breed desirable tree and wood characteristics. Once the best seed is selected, the seedlings are grown in a tree nursery specifically for Duke Energy. By selecting those tree families that have been shown to grow faster, straighter and disease-resistant, the health of the forest is improved overall.

A healthy forest does not happen by accident, it requires hard work and a dedication to beautifying the land and improving natural environments. This is just one example of the good environmental stewardship that is being shown in the Duke Energy nuclear fleet.

Duke Energy donates school supplies to help kick-off the school year

With school back in session, Duke Energy’s nuclear sites are helping needy elementary and middle school students start the year off right with loads of school supplies. Across the fleet, sites sponsored back to school supply drives in an effort to help local schools and organizations in each of their areas.

Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, N.C. donated 370 book bags filled with pencils, paper, file folders, crayons, erasers and pencil boxes. In addition to school supplies, Harris teammates donated $500 worth of cleaning supplies, including disinfectant wipes and tissues. Five area schools benefitted from Harris’ overwhelming support.

In Hartsville, S.C., 12 area elementary schools benefitted from the donations from Robinson Nuclear Plant. This year, teammates donated 386 stuffed book bags and $1,000 towards general school supplies. Each book bag was packed with pencils, paper, crayons, rulers and other school supplies.

The Women in Nuclear (WIN) group at the Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, S.C. collected supplies to benefit children in the care of the Oconee Department of Social Services. Teammates donated more than $600 and five boxes worth of school supplies.

Teammates at Catawba Nuclear Station in York, S.C. collected approximately 200 backpacks to donate to local schools. While sister site, McGuire Nuclear Station, near Charlotte, N.C. just wrapped up its month long school supply drive. Their efforts yielded a van full of book bags, lunch boxes and supplies to benefit an area elementary school.

This is just one of many collection drives Duke Energy nuclear teammates participate in as part of their willingness to give back to the communities where they live and work.

Nuclear observation program helps to ensure public safety

Employees working at nuclear plants may feel like they are always being watched and, in reality, this is partly true. Monitored security cameras are located throughout the plant property and buildings, and employees only have authorized access to plant areas based on their level of security clearance and the type of work they perform.
Duke Energy’s Fitness for Duty (FFD) Program, which complies with all Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules, is designed to provide reasonable assurance that individuals are not under the influence of any substance (legal or illegal), or mentally or physically impaired from any cause, which in anyway adversely affects their ability to safely and competently perform their duties. In addition to initial testing, the FFD program includes random drug and alcohol screening to ensure employees are continuously able to safely perform their duties.

The FFD program also includes a behavioral observation component. Under the behavior observation program, workers must inform their supervisors and plant security of any legal action that may impact the worker’s own trustworthiness and reliability. Workers must inform their supervisor of personal issues that could affect their job performance.

Additionally, workers are trained to recognize behavior changes in co-workers that might constitute a risk to the individual, others, public health and safety, or plant security. Workers are advised to report such observations, suspicious or unusual behaviors promptly to management or plant Security. Suspicious behavior could be a worker observed in an area of the plant where they don’t have authorization to be, or making statements about harming themselves, others or plant equipment.
While the nuclear observation program might seem far-reaching, the primary goal is to protect the health and safety of the public from intentional or unintentional damage to the plant. This means a safe plant for both plant employees and the public.

You can read more about nuclear behavior observation requirements on this NRC blog.