The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has developed regulations regarding the siting and design of nuclear power plants (NPPs) that are aimed at addressing various natural hazards, including flooding. Flood barriers are designed to prevent water from entering NPP areas containing structures, systems, and components (SSCs) important to safety. The barriers are used at NPPs along with drains, sumps, pumps, valves, plugs, and site grading as part of the plant flood protection features that protect SSCs from experiencing external or internal flooding and mitigate the effects of flooding on NPP operations. The performance of flood protection features, including flood barriers at NPPs, has been an ongoing concern. Domestic and international operational experience provides clear indications that flood barrier performance has significant safety implications, especially for aging NPPs. The observed deficiencies show that flood barriers should be designed and installed properly, then adequately tested, inspected, and maintained in order to ensure that they perform their intended functions during flooding events.

This paper reviews available information related to flood barriers employed at U.S. NPPs and provides an overview and categorization of NPP flood barriers. It identifies potential domestic and international flood barrier testing facilities, including operating and decommissioned U.S. NPPs. Finally, this paper presents the technical and logistical considerations that should be made when developing specific testing strategies and protocols for flood barriers, such as the selection of flood barriers, test locations, testing approach, performance criteria, and testing parameters.