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NEI and UTC Urge FCC to Support Use of Telex Headsets in Nuclear Energy Facilities

NEI and UTC Urge FCC to Support Use of Telex Headsets in Nuclear Energy Facilities

Washington, DC—The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) filed comments at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging the FCC to support the continued use of Telex headsets in nuclear energy facilities.

In the comments, NEI and UTC explained that the important public interest benefits they provide to worker and operational safety, coupled with the demonstrated record of non-interference from the operation of these headsets, support a permanent codification in the Part 15 rules to allow for 100 milliwatt output power and relief from the TV transmitter distance separation limits that apply to wireless microphones in general.  In addition, NEI and UTC urged the FCC permit such operations to be licensed under Part 74 of its rules.  This would ensure the reliable and effective use of these headsets, including during nuclear plant refueling outages.  As NEI and UTC explained, the continued use of these headsets is necessary due to the demanding performance requirements associated with the unique circumstances of nuclear power plants.

The nuclear energy facilities that provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses use Telex equipment for indoor and outdoor communications.For communications inside the reactor, Telex’s operation over the broadcast spectrum avoids “multipath” interference and “reflected signal” from the domed ceilings of the plants’ containment buildings that interfere with or weaken systems operating on other frequencies.  This equipment also enables better coverage and audio clarity than other equipment tested by Nuclear Regulatory Commission reactor licensees.

Moreover, safety is enhanced by using the same communications assets from the start of the delicate and highly choreographed process of moving used fuel containers to the outdoor storage facility.  There is also substantial value of Telex wireless headsets for crane and other heavy equipment operations in the switch yard that demand precision and uninterrupted transmissions.  The equipment for which the licenses are requested is also relied upon for its design and functionality, as it enables multiple headsets to be used simultaneously and allows workers dressed in heavy protective gear, including gloves, to manage the units in a hands-free manner.  Nuclear reactor   plants report that Telex equipment is best suited for the challenging industrial environments of the facilities.

Ellen Ginsberg, NEI vice president and general counsel, said, “For almost a decade the commercial nuclear industry has worked cooperatively with the FCC staff to ensure that the public health and safety case for the requested licensing action is well founded.  Given the importance of protecting nuclear plant workers and maintaining safe plant operation, we believe it is entirely appropriate for the FCC to allow nuclear reactor licensees to use communications equipment best suited to these public health and safety objectives. ”

Connie Durcsak, President & CEO of the Utilities Telecom Council, said, “Continued use of Telex equipment is critical for nuclear power plants, particularly during refueling operations.  The Telex equipment meets the unique communications requirements for operations in nuclear facilities, and the plants have been unable to find alternative equipment that performs as well.  Given the importance of these communications systems for worker and plant safety, UTC urges the Commission to permit continued use of Telex equipment inside the reactor and outside the perimeter fenced grounds of the nuclear power plants, where they pose no risk of interference to other licensed operations.”

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