Monday, July 1, 2019
When back-up generators at nuclear power stations stop working, the clock starts ticking before federal rules require the main unit to shut down. So, when the 49,000-pound back-up diesel generator went quiet at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in upstate New York, the nearly 75 members of Syracuse Local 97 in the maintenance department had a monumental challenge on their hands.
Two years earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an order saving the state's nuclear plants and the pressure to keep the lights on and maintain a perfect safety record became Job 1 to maintain public support for nuclear power.
Over the next fortnight, maintenance department electricians, operators, and instrumentation mechanics worked round the clock to remove and replace the damaged diesel unit.
"This operation involved more than 100 people and nearly 75 Local 97 members who needed to work flawlessly together. The stakes are extremely high, the time frame was short and the potential impact of any mistakes is hard to put into words," said Local 97 Business Manager Ted Skerpon. "And they nailed it. Flawless. A perfect 10."
Not even a minor injury. No mishaps. Every piece of equipment, every tool, every procedure was accounted for and followed.
"Throughout this evolution, the pride displayed by all involved was amazing," said Nine Mile Point Vice President Pete Orphanos. "There was such teamwork and collaboration."
He lauded the workers' craftsmanship and rigorous adherence to safe work practices.
Nine Mile Point's motto is "Pride in the Point," the company wrote in a statement. "The diesel engine replacement project is a perfect example of what pride in the point really means."