Reflecting on 9/11: How the attack upped safety at nuclear power plants throughout Carolinas

National

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Not far off the shores of Lake Norman, atoms are split at the McGuire Nuclear Power Plant, providing electricity to millions across the Carolinas.

“To do that, our operators and our workers here have to have a high level of knowledge and a high degree of confidence that they can operate under any situation,” Operations Manager Brent Bare said.

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Less than 40 miles from downtown Manhattan, the Indian Point Energy Center was a key source of electricity for America’s largest city.

After major concerns over safety and the possibility of the facility being a future target, the nuclear plant was forced to stop operations earlier this year. 

“I was here at McGuire. I was a supervisor at the time when 9/11 occurred obviously with all of the uncertainly at the time it was unnerving at the time,” the now McGuire Nuclear Station Vice President Tom Ray said. “We were a hardened facility before that, we are definitely a hardened facility now.”

Ray said the plant was already designed to handle threats from the air but has since cracked down on ground security.

“Making sure that they had everything controlled and contained around the plant and then we started going through the process of is there are any additional barriers that we need to put around the facility,” Ray said.

Within its walls, operators are given written tests, hand-on training in simulated control rooms, and extensive training every five weeks designated to operate the plant safely.

“Training is a huge part of operations at any nuclear facility,” Bare said. “We have individuals who are here days and nights and they are always ready and able to maintain the facility and keep it operational at the highest level of confidence that it will be safe and efficient.”

Ray said about 950 people work at the plant, some live nearby including himself.

“The plant is very safe and if you look at the folks that are here, very much professionals.  I want them to feel comfortable with us here in the community,” Ray said.

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