Duke Energy says ‘thanks’ through summer celebrations

Duke Energy’s nuclear station education centers and outreach programs continue to serve as a critical connection between the power plants and surrounding communities. Locals play a large role in the vitality of our business of providing safe, reliable energy to our customers, whether it’s supporting local health and human service agencies, working with our teams on emergency preparedness or the thousands of employees who live in our communities and work hard and safely every day. It is our job as good corporate citizens to engage with our communities in activities and opportunities that let them know we’re proud to be their nuclear neighbors.

As the summer winds down, we’d like to share the community events of the past season – and those coming up to round out the summer. We encourage you to visit our education centers year-round, and we hope you will attend one of the many annual events next summer!

Florida Nuclear

cr3_Jersey Day MontageCrystal River: In June, workers at the Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Florida showed their colors and their concern for the local community. As part of the plant’s Jersey Day event, workers sported their favorite team’s jersey and collected non-perishable food to benefit a local food bank, donating 75 pounds of food. Workers at the on-site café also wanted to participate, so they hosted a pet food drive, collecting 116 pounds of cat food and 171 pounds of dog food. Also in June, the United Way of Citrus County presented Duke Energy a Leadership Giving Award at an awards luncheon. In July, more than 300 people attended a Duke Energy open house in Florida. The proposed new natural gas plant in Citrus County was the main attraction, but workers from the Crystal River Nuclear Plant were also on hand to answer questions about the plant’s decommissioning plan. More information about the nuclear plant is available at duke-energy.com/CR3. Also in July, employees at the Crystal River Nuclear Plant volunteered their time and talent to serve as camera operators at a telethon benefiting the Key Training Center, a local nonprofit agency that helps adults with developmental disabilities. Nuclear plant workers have participated in this event for 25 years.

North Carolina Nuclear

A young guest enjoys the view while listening to the sounds of the Charlotte Symphony at McGuire Nuclear Station.

A young guest enjoys the view while listening to the sounds of the Charlotte Symphony at McGuire Nuclear Station.

McGuire: At McGuire Nuclear Station, one of the season’s biggest highlights year after year is the Charlotte Symphony concert. In June, nearly 10,000 locals gathered on the lawn of the station’s education center, the EnergyExplorium (Huntersville, N.C.), to listen to the concert. They also came by boat and enjoyed the sights and sounds on beautiful Lake Norman. Guests are always encouraged to bring picnic dinners to top off the evening of socializing and fantastic music.

Summer movies at McGuire are always popular for locals in the Huntersville, N.C. area.

Summer movies at McGuire are always popular for locals in the Huntersville, N.C. area.

McGuire’s EnergyExplorium also hosted two summer movie nights in July and August. 2,500 visitors spread blankets and chairs across the lawn to watch “Rio 2” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”

Harris Nuclear Plant collected more than 350 backpacks filled with school supplies for area elementary schools.

Harris Nuclear Plant collected more than 350 backpacks filled with school supplies for area elementary schools.

Harris: Harris Nuclear Plant’s big summer event is coming up Sept. 6 – members of the surrounding communities are invited to come out to the ninth-annual Harris Community Day at the Energy and Environmental (E&E) Center in New Hill, N.C. There are plenty of fun-filled activities scheduled throughout the day, including learning about the benefits of nuclear power, bucket truck rides, simulator tours and more. Harris Nuclear Plant also recently held its annual Key Leader Breakfast, in which 45 elected officials and community leaders visited the E&E Center for breakfast and received a plant update from Site Vice President Ben Waldrep. To support the community, 120 Harris employees, families and friends participated in a North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) golf tournament that earned more than $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern Carolina. Employees also collected 350 book bags filled with school supplies for five area elementary schools. Additionally, teachers received $500 worth of cleaning supplies and teaching materials.

Brunswick Nuclear Plant employees clean up Southport's shoreline.

Brunswick Nuclear Plant employees clean up Southport’s shoreline.

Brunswick: Brunswick Nuclear Plant employees participated in a Southport Waterfront Litter Sweep in July, in which they collected trash and cleaned up debris along Southport’s waterfront. Duke Energy employees actively participate in environmentally sustainable community service projects such as litter sweeps along shorelines, roadways and more. Employees will also participate in a Schoolyard Habitat Build Day on Fri., Aug. 22.

South Carolina Nuclear

Engineers at Robinson Nuclear Plant speak to summer camp students at the S.C. Governor's School for Science and Mathematics.

Engineers at Robinson Nuclear Plant speak to summer camp students at the S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics.

Robinson: Throughout the summer, Robinson Nuclear Plant engineers visited the S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville, S.C. These engineers met with students attending summer camps at the school and spoke to them about nuclear energy and careers in the nuclear industry. Robinson employees also donated nearly 400 back packs filled with school supplies to 12 area elementary schools in Chesterfield, Darlington and Lee counties.

Catawba: Catawba Nuclear Station employees collected roughly 200 back packs this summer that were donated to area schools. In addition, the plant will host its United Way Kick-Off on Sept. 25, in which its car and bike show, karaoke and more will raise money for the local United Way organizations in York County and nearby locations.

The Critter Keeper kept many guests on the edge of their seats during a recent Wednesdays at the World of Energy summer event.

The Critter Keeper kept many guests on the edge of their seats during a recent Wednesdays at the World of Energy summer event.

Oconee: Oconee Nuclear Station’s World of Energy (education center) kicked off the summer with its first-ever “Wednesdays at the World of Energy.” This free, hour-long program every Wednesday in June and July featured fun activities for children under 12 years of age. Between 150 and 200 families participated in Mini-Science Camp Day and Critter Keeper Day. Other activities included Boating and Water Safety, a Fourth of July Talent Show and Picnic, Movie Day, Storytelling Day, Sing-A-Long Bird Songs and Crafts and more. The World of Energy also hosted its annual summer movie nights on Lake Keowee in June and August. More than 800 people gathered on Lake Keowee to watch “Frozen” and “The LEGO Movie.” Oconee also held a Realtors’ Breakfast and Community Leaders Breakfast, in which local realtors and key community leaders received an update from Site Vice President Scott Batson and toured the station.

Fishing is one of many activities available at the upcoming Hunting and Fishing Day at the World of Energy.

Fishing is one of many activities available at the upcoming Hunting and Fishing Day at the World of Energy.

The summer will go out with a bang on Sept. 20, when the World of Energy hosts its annual Hunting and Fishing Day, which attracts thousands of visitors to this free family outdoor adventure.  From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., guests enjoy kayaking and fishing on Lake Keowee, archery, air rifle shooting, fly tying and casting, wildlife artifacts, camouflage hide-and-seek and more.

School’s out, but our education partnerships continue to grow

Even though school is out, the summer months are a great time for nuclear sites to connect with students and educators to build interest and develop positive attitudes and aspirations towards science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The nuclear industry depends on a qualified workforce to safely and reliably operate power plants. However, the nuclear industry is facing a workforce shortage as half of employees are eligible for retirement in the next 10 years and due to the lack of students entering STEM career fields. Establishing strategic partnerships is an important way to provide learning opportunities to ensure well-prepared students and teachers.

EducIMG_1964ational partnerships include programs focused on local schools, universities, summer camps, community organizations and more. These programs provide a valuable experience and may include plant tours, hands-on demonstrations for educators and students, and opportunities to speak with industry professionals.

Duke Energy’s nuclear sites have supported a number of programs this summer season. Harris Nuclear Plant near Raleigh, N.C. hosted an annual workshop for high school science teachers in conjunction with North Carolina State University. Teachers toured the site and learned about plant operations, radiation protection, emergHarrisency preparedness, material failure and analysis, as well as plant security. Rising sixth graders also attended a summer camp focused on energy and energy conservation, and students took part in a hands-on project led by a site engineer.

McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, N.C. established new partnerships with North Carolina New Schools and Discovery Place. Both organizations offer a summer program for STEM educators to learn about career opportunities and how to better inspire students. The educators toured the plant, heard from a panel of speakers and participated in learning activities.

Oconee Nuclear Station in Pickens, S.C. participated in an “Invention Convention” where middle school students learned about nuclear energy and electricity at the site’s exhibit. Oconee is also working with Clemson University on a summer program aimed at introducing girls to careers in 4ResourceRanch04.2014science and technology.

Engineering and chemistry professionals from Robinson Nuclear Plant near Hartsville, S.C. spoke to students at several different summer camps hosted by a regional school specializing in science and math. Brunswick Nuclear Plant near Wilmington, N.C. was recognized by the local school district for its STEM education partnerships and programs including “STEM Speaks” which connects nuclear professionals with students to promote STEM disciplines.

In addition to specific programs, Duke Energy’s energy education centers hosted hundreds of summer camp students and educators.

Education partnerships are a valuable way for the nuclear industry to reach out to educators and engage students. Programs promote an interest in STEM fields, raise awareness about the industry and build goodwill with the community. Most importantly, education partnerships help the nuclear industry develop its future workforce.

New FLEX Regional Center Opens in Arizona

One of three FLEX buildings at McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, NC is almost complete.

One of three FLEX buildings at McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, NC is almost complete.

As part of the U.S. nuclear industry’s ongoing response to the events at Fukushima in 2011, additional portable equipment is being added to all U.S. nuclear sites.  This portable equipment is being selected based on a diverse and flexible coping strategy (FLEX) which adds was developed for adding more backup systems to cool nuclear reactors and used fuel storage pools and to maintain the integrity of reactor containment structures. The implementation of this strategy requires new facilities and equipment at all U.S. nuclear power plants, as well as the creation of two new regional response centers. These regional centers are being made available to provide a second source of portable equipment for U.S. nuclear sites.  One of these centers recently opened in Phoenix, Arizona; a second facility will open in Memphis, Tennessee in June. Equipment from these regional response centers will be used – in addition to equipment and other measures taken by plant operators – to respond to severe natural events. According to an article in Nuclear Engineering International “Equipment stored at the centres includes portable backup generators, portable high pressure pumps, portable low pressure pumps, diesel fuel transfer pumps, diesel fuel tanks, diesel powered light towers, water treatment, booster pumps, electrical distribution cabinets, cables, and hoses. Each centre houses five full sets of equipment, with four ready to be moved to any U.S. nuclear power plant at all times, and the equipment will undergo regular testing for operability” (May 2014). Equipment from these centers can be delivered within 24 hours via ground and air. Click here to read more about the new regional centers.

A second FLEX building at McGuire Nuclear Station is currently under construction.

A second FLEX building at McGuire Nuclear Station is currently under construction.

In addition to these regional centers, nuclear plant operators have been focused on efforts to provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity and cooling water that will protect critical plant safety systems at all times. Utilities across the country are constructing robust buildings and facilities to protect and house emergency equipment like generators, battery packs, pumps and vehicles that can move this equipment to areas needed in the event of a severe natural event in conjunction with extended loss of AC power to station equipment. While the country’s nuclear plants continue to operate safely, implementing the FLEX strategy will make them safer. Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station currently has three FLEX buildings under construction. The buildings are designed to industry guidance and are very robust; built to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and winds up to 240 mph. The foundation of the buildings is nearly two feet in the ground to ensure their stability. All Duke Energy-owned and operated nuclear stations will have new FLEX buildings in the future.

Additional Resources:

NEI – Overview of the nuclear industry’s FLEX approach.

Nuclear Energy Three Years After Fukushima

NEI: FAQ: Nuclear Energy Industry Develops FLEX Strategy to Increase Safety, Address NRC’s Post-Fukushima Recommendations