Editor's note: This story and photos were captured before the COVID-19 pandemic. Duke Energy policies surrounding visits to our nuclear stations have since changed to help ensure those who operate and maintain these facilities can continue to work safely while they perform essential work to keep the lights on.
A special benefit for employees at Duke Energy's nuclear power plants is the opportunity to show their loved ones where they work. Occasionally, each Duke Energy nuclear plant hosts a special family tour day. During this event, employees with nuclear badged access have the rare opportunity to show their family where they work.
Children, spouses, parents and siblings are offered a privileged peek into plant operations. Employees can bring up to five of their closest relatives into the plant.
After visitors and escorts have carefully reviewed the tour process and their responsibilities (required reading for all tour participants), family members don hardhats, earplugs and safety glasses. Children giggle, smile and are proud to dress like mom or dad in their hard hats. Immediately, families begin to understand the large role safety plays at a nuclear power plant. During Family Tour Day, hundreds of families are escorted by employees through the plant.
With their families in tow, employees conduct tours through the plant, showing off the turbine building, outage command center, dry cask storage area and areas outside the containment building. Although family tours do not include the control room, radiological areas or other vital areas of the plant, tour members are given a good view of areas inside and outside the plant.
Family members experience the security measures their loved ones encounter every day and the warm temperature of the turbine building, which can get up to 115 F in the summer.
Very few people have the opportunity to tour a nuclear power plant; but families are invited for this special event to see the work their family members undertake and the safe environment in which they spend their day. During outages, employees work around the clock and see more of their co-workers than their families. Outages require a lot of patience and devotion, not only from employees, but their families as well. Employees are proud to show their families how their hard work and time contributes to the safe and efficient operations of Duke Energy's nuclear fleet.