Public Safety

​​​Safety is our first priority

Columbia Generating Station has been operating safely since 1984. Equipped with redundant safety systems, the plant is designed to ensure public and worker safety at all times. Commercial nuclear power operations involve the safe application of radiological processes. This involves no less than six barriers to ensure radiological products are safely contained. They include:

  • Non-soluble ceramic pellets that encase the commercial nuclear fuel

  • Corrosion-resistant zirconium metal tubes, or cladding, that encase the ceramic pellets

  • Reactor coolant – water – within the reactor vessel

  • The reactor vessel’s six- to nine- inch-thick steel heavy inner wall

  • Primary containment – a concrete shield wall several feet thick surrounding the reactor vessel

  • Secondary containment – the reactor building’s outer wall, aided by negative inside air pressure and high-efficiency building filtration systems

The plant design also employs a "defense in depth" philosophy that takes into account a multitude of possible accident scenarios. Extensive planning, preparation and training are all designed to identify and prepare for equipment malfunctions, earthquakes, power interruptions and more. Each hypothetical scenario is analyzed and appropriate responses are practiced in realistic training drills. Each plant safety system has built-in redundancy and backup to ensure reliability across a wide range of accident scenarios.

A rigorous and ongoing training program is in place to ensure employees are well prepared to handle any situation. Classroom instruction, hands-on practice, and full-scale emergency drills are just a few of the methods used to keep employees and our community safe. Most of our training activities involve city, county and/or state authorities.

Columbia has an award-earning safety record, and the men and women of Energy Northwest remain committed to safe operations.