Ongoing NRC Activities

As the Japan nuclear emergency continues into its third week, the NRC continues both to monitor the important events taking place across the Pacific and continue pursuing our ongoing responsibilities.

The NRC’s headquarters-based Operations Center continues to be staffed 24 hours a day with experts in nuclear reactors and protective measures, among others. NRC staffers who are part of a team in Japan continue to provide whatever assistance is requested, with some members of the team returning to the U.S. and fresh experts joining the team.

Today, NRC Chairman Jaczko arrived in Tokyo for a meeting with senior Japanese government and TEPCO officials. Afterwards, the Embassy in Tokyo issued a statement in which Jaczko said:

“Our nuclear experts are working closely with their Japanese counterparts, and we both continue to share expert analysis as we move forward to address this challenge. I reconfirmed in my meetings that we are prepared to provide any assistance we can in the days to come. The unprecedented challenge before us remains serious and our best experts remain fully engaged to help Japan address the situation.”

Meanwhile, the NRC issued its final supplemental environmental impact statement for a limited work authorization and the combined licenses for the proposed Vogtle Units 3 and 4 reactors. The press release can be found online.

And later this week, NRC staff will meet with representatives of the nuclear power industry to discuss issues with buried and underground piping at nuclear power plants. The public can participate through an audio bridge. The meeting notice is available online.

For the past two weeks the focus of this blog has been exclusively on Japan-related issues. Tomorrow, we’re transitioning back to our regular official bloggers, who will resume writing about the many different things this agency does. I will write about Japan-related activities when it’s warranted.

Come back this week for posts on an award we received for our support of minority engineers and a word from the NRC historian.

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

Latest NRC Actions Related to Ongoing Events in Japan

The NRC Commissioners voted this week to direct the staff to launch a review of U.S. nuclear power plant safety – as a direct result of the Japanese nuclear power emergency. The review will include a task force that will do both a short-term and long-term analysis of lessons learned. The review will be public when it’s completed. The task force doing the reports includes current senior managers at the NRC and former NRC experts with relevant experience.

The Chairman and Commissioners set very short deadlines for the task force. They want formal updates on the short-term effort in 30, 60 and 90 days. (Already NRC senior technical staff briefed the Commission on Monday about efforts so far. A transcript of that briefing is online. And the Commission wants the taskforce to start long-term evaluation within 90 days and should have a report on recommendations within six months of beginning that evaluation.

We’ll post more information on the results of the taskforce both here on the blog and at www.nrc.gov .

In a decision also related to events in Japan, the Commission revised its schedule for meetings and briefings to remain focused on the agency’s response to events in Japan. A revised Commission meeting schedule will be posted shortly on the NRC website here: http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/schedule.html.

In other news, the IG report released today is focused on a subset of defects — manufacturing defects. Both utilities and NRC inspectors have processes for identifying and reporting manufacturing defects. The fundamental issue identified by the report is administrative and pertains to how these defects are reported. The NRC has a variety of other regulations that effectively encompass reporting all defects, and the NRC continues to conclude plants are operating safely. The NRC will look at the IG report to see if our reporting systems can be further strengthened.

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director