Eliminating the Need for Exclusion Zones in Nuclear Power Plants: Part 2

The use of exclusion zones to keep wireless transmission devices (WTDs) (e.g., radio walkie-talkies, cellular phones, etc) from being too close to instrumentation and control (I&C) equipment and system cabinets containing this equipment remains a primary concern in existing and advanced (future) nuclear power plants. In Part 1 of this article, a background and history of how exclusion zones were developed and implemented in these plants was presented along with their advantages and limitations. In Part 2, presented here, the elements of the exclusion zone strategy are discussed followed by the demonstration of a concept often used in studying the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) immunity of modern electronic systems. This concept—called layered immunity—is key to understanding the parts of a system where EMC system immunity must be applied. The initial thought that readers must accept before proceeding to read and understand this concept described in this article is that system immunity involves other parts of the system besides just the immunity of the individual piece of equipment requiring protection.


Eliminating the Need for Exclusion Zones in Nuclear Power Plants

Utilities operating nuclear power plants have been dealing with electromagnetic interference (EMI) problems for over two decades. Many early problems that affected the operation of instrumentation and control (I&C) equipment in plants stemmed from the use of wireless transmission devices (WTDs) (e.g., radio walkie-talkies, cellular phones, etc) inside the plant in the vicinity of system cabinets and cable trays carrying bundles of cables. A simple and partially effective method of reducing EMI events caused by WTDs has been to mark off exclusion zones around system cabinets and areas where I&C equipment is installed. The use of these zones has presented some problems for existing plants. For example, some plants have had to expand the area of some zones that became ineffective upon the use of new WTDs that evidently presented an increased risk to the operation and EMI protection of I&C equipment. The sizes of some expanded zones are larger than 2,000 square feet. In addition, some zones encroach upon human traffic areas used by plant personnel to move from area to area within a plant.