The Season for Giving

’Tis the season of giving, and Duke Energy’s nuclear teammates in South Carolina and North Carolina are always finding rewarding and creative ways to give to their local communities.

South Carolina

At Oconee Nuclear Station (ONS) in Seneca, S.C., the Women in Nuclear (WiN) organization held its annual Salvation Army Angel Tree drive, which is always a favorite among ONS employees. This year, ONS employees set a record for the site by sponsoring 400 children – 250 children were sponsored in 2013. WiN also collected 350 gently used coats this fall from ONS employees that were distributed to Our Daily Rest, Safe Harbor and Helping Hands for the cold, winter months.

WiN members and Oconee Nuclear Station volunteers pack toys Dec. 16, for 400 children into the Salvation Army truck.

Oconee Nuclear Station’s Women in Nuclear (WiN) members and employee volunteers pack toys Dec. 16, for 400 children. WiN partners with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

Catawba Nuclear Station teammates donated hundreds of toys and more than $2,000 to Toys for Happiness. Toys for Happiness provides Christmas presents to underprivileged children in York County. Roughly 20 volunteers came out Friday, Dec. 12 to load and deliver these toys to the Toys for Happiness warehouse.

A Catawba Nuclear Station employee distributes

A Catawba Nuclear Station employee packs toys Dec. 12 for Toys for Happiness. These toys will be distributed to children in York County, S.C.

At Robinson Nuclear Plant (RNP) in Darlington County, more than 100 coats and 50 pairs of gloves were donated as part of RNP’s winter coat drive. Engineering Manager Sonja Meyers spearheads this effort and hand-made more than 20 coats for at-risk children. The team also donated 250 turkeys to local charities, food pantries and churches as part of the plant’s annual turkey giveaway. Robinson employees each receive a free turkey in November, but have the option to pay it forward and give their turkey to charity. RNP then matches a portion of the employee turkey donations. Additionally, employees participated in a food drive for the Carolina Kids Hunger Buster program, which brought in 1,200 boxes of cereal, macaroni and cheese and jars of peanut butter. RNP also participated in the Giving Tree program, similar to Toys for Happiness and the Salvation Army Angel Tree programs.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, Brunswick Nuclear Plant (BNP) recently collected $27,010 for their bike drive, which will provide 273 less fortunate children at schools in Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender and Columbus county schools bikes and helmets this Christmas. BNP raised more money than needed, so the remainder will go to purchase additional bikes and helmets for Toys for Tots.

At McGuire Nuclear Station (MNS) in Mecklenburg County, employees donated 150 winter items, including coats, hats, scarves and gloves that will help children at Oakdale Elementary School this winter. In addition, the MNS team donated nearly $18,000 to Toys for Tots and brought in 30 bags of toys and 197 bikes.

Mecklenberg County's McGuire Nuclear Station employees recently load 197 children's bikes for Toys for Tots.

Mecklenburg County’s McGuire Nuclear Station employees recently load 197 children’s bikes for Toys for Tots.

Finally, Harris Nuclear Plant (HNP) and its Employee Activities Committee has sponsored Wish Upon a Star for more than 20 years – the site, near Raleigh, collects cash and gifts for 10 local families. Last year, HNP employees collected 400 presents and grocery gift cards for families.

Brunswick Nuclear Plant Protects Natural Resources

BNP Turtles Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet is committed to environmental stewardship. Responsibly managing and protecting natural resources is essential to a cleaner environment, the quality of life in the communities served and the company’s long-term business success. A good example of that stewardship can be found at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant in Southport, N.C.

Because the plant is near the Atlantic Ocean, migrating sea turtles occasionally travel onto plant property when unusual tides and storms push them through barriers in an on-site canal. When a sea turtle is found on plant property, the site’s environmental specialists capture it and give it a thorough checkup. Depending on the turtle’s condition, plant scientists may partner with the state to provide additional care or rehabilitation. If the turtle is healthy, it’s tagged with a tracking device that allows the company and the state to monitor its migration habits. After being tagged, the turtles are released back into the ocean.

Because the plant draws water from the lower Cape Fear River to aid in the cooling of plant systems, several intake modifications were installed to protect fish, shrimp, and crabs found in the area. A large fish diversion structure was constructed in 1982 at the mouth of the intake canal to ensure debris and wildlife are kept out of the intake canal. Installation of the diversion structure resulted in a reduction of 85 to 95 percent in the numbers of marine life affected by plant operations. An additional measure of its effectiveness is there were no sea turtle strandings during this year’s turtle nesting season.

Fish-friendly intake screens and a fish return system were installed at the station intake structure in 1983. The fish return system prevents fish, shrimp and crabs from being drawn into the plant’s cooling system along with the cooling water. The return system is further enhance by the installation of 1-mm fine-mesh screens to ensure larval fish and shellfish are also saved. Substantial numbers of fish, shrimp and crabs are returned alive to their nursery habitats by the continuous operation of the fish-friendly intake screens and return system. In addition, station cooling water flow is also reduced from December through March to further minimize effects on the large numbers of larval fish found in the lower Cape Fear River during those months.

Significant biological studies of the lower Cape Fear River were conducted by the company in partnership with academic institutions and state and federal resource agencies from the 1970s to the 1990s to enhance understanding of the environment around the Brunswick Nuclear Plant to ensure plant operations had minimal effects on the environment.  Ongoing studies by plant personnel and company biologists continue to demonstrate minimal effects of plant operations on the environment.

Annual national celebration places focus on nuclear science, careers and education

NSW-logoLast week, Duke Energy hosted a series of local events in communities around the company’s six nuclear plants. More than 125 nuclear professionals across the company’s nuclear fleet met with hundreds of students to give them a lesson on nuclear power as part of National Nuclear Science Week – a national, broadly observed week-long celebration to focus local, regional and national interests on all aspects of nuclear science.

Teammates flocked to local schools while others welcomed homeschoolers to their site’s energy education centers, where outreach efforts ranged from interactive presentations and hands-on activities. Several of the events were orchestrated by the site’s North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) and Women in Nuclear (WIN) groups.

Curious to know what went on during National Nuclear Science Week? Below are some key outreach efforts held during the week-long celebration:

  • Brunswick Nuclear Plant:Brunswick’s nuclear teammates hit the ground running last week by hosting a National Nuclear Science Week fair at six local schools. Nearly 85 volunteers met with more than 2,000 students to help spark awareness about nuclear science. Students were able to spend about 30 minutes visiting different stations including a robotics demonstration, learning about the anatomy of an atom and participating in a “nuclear dance” as a way of learning how a boiling water reactor works.
  • McGuire Nuclear Station: 80 Boy Scouts visited the EnergyExplorium, McGuire’s education center, to earn their nuclear science merit badge. Scouts were able to see and touch models of a turbine, generator and fuel assembly as they learned about nuclear power.A nuclear science day was also planned for nearly 125 homeschool students. Members of Duke Energy’s NA-YGN partnered with the American Nuclear Society and led a presentation focusing on nuclear power; a participated on a career panel answering questions about their background, skills and education. Students also participated in hands-on, interactive activities including a demonstration on radioactive half-life using M&Ms.
  • Harris Nuclear Plant:Students from a local college were led on a site driving tour, while a group of realtors participated in a lunch and learn at the site’s energy education center hosted by WIN. A member of Harris’ WIN group also visited a local school and met with middle schools science teachers and female students to lead a nuclear science program.
  • Catawba Nuclear Station: The site welcomed nearly 100 members of the homeschool community for a nuclear science day. Students participated in five sessions during the event, including a nuclear dress out activity. Families also learned about half-life and radiation decay, the various types of careers at a nuclear plant, how the plant makes electricity and participated in nuclear trivia. 24 volunteers from Catawba helped to make the event a huge success.
  • Robinson Nuclear Station: Robinson teammates gave 12 presentations to five local schools. Approximately 607 students were able to learn more about nuclear energy, nuclear careers and the success paths Robinson employees took to get where they are now.
  • Oconee Nuclear Station: Teammates from Oconee participated in the “Bite of Science” at Clemson University, a workshop designed to improve teacher’s ability to provide students a context of how science is applied in the real world and inspire students to pursue careers of excellence and leadership in STEM. The World of Energy, Oconee’s energy education center, offered a tour of the site’s control room simulator to 55 students from Furman University, hosted a homeschool day and delivered six presentations to local high school and elementary school students.

Duke Energy places a year-round focus on education at all of its nuclear plants across North and South Carolina. The company reaches thousands of students and teachers each year through an extensive public education and community outreach program.