Japan Task Force Report Now Public

While finding that events like the Fukushima accident are unlikely at U.S. reactors and U.S. reactors can be operated safely, the NRC’s Japan Task Force report made public today proposed improvements in a variety of areas, including “loss of power” response, spent fuel pools and preparedness for natural events.

The report has been given to the Commissioners, who will be formally briefed on it next Tuesday. On July 28, the task force will hold a public meeting on the report, and members will appear before the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards on Aug. 17. Additional meetings may be scheduled to seek public input on the recommendations. Any action on the report’s recommendations is up to the Commission.

The report, which noted that over the years “patchwork of regulatory requirements” developed and suggested it be replaced with a more logical, systematic and coherent regulatory framework, was produced by team of in-house experts who collectively had over 130 years of reactor regulatory experience. This report will be followed about six months later by a more in-depth report as additional information about the Fukushima reactors becomes available.

Other highlights from the report:

The current NRC approach to regulation includes requirements for protection and mitigation of design-basis events, requirements for some “beyond-design-basis” events through regulations, and voluntary industry initiatives to address severe accident issues. “Consistent with the NRC’s organizational value of excellence, the Task Force believes that improving the NRC’s regulatory framework is an appropriate, realistic and achievable goal.”

Continued operation and continued licensing activities do not pose an imminent risk to public health and safety, the report added.

The report, among other things, recommends:

• Requiring plants to reevaluate and upgrade as necessary their design-basis seismic and flooding protection of structures, systems and components for each operating reactor and reconfirm that design basis every 10 years;

• Strengthening Station Black Out (SBO) mitigation capability for existing and new reactors for design-basis and beyond-design-basis natural events – such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes or tsunamis – with a rule to set minimum coping time without offsite or onsite AC power at 8 hours; establishing equipment, procedures and training to keep the core and spent fuel pool cool at least 72 hours; and preplanning and pre-staging offsite resources to be delivered to the site to support uninterrupted core and pool cooling and coolant system and containment integrity as needed;

• Requiring that facility emergency plans address prolonged station blackouts and events involving multiple reactors;

• Requiring additional instrumentation and seismically protected systems to provide additional cooling water to spent fuel pools if necessary; and requiring at least one system of electrical power to operate spent fuel pool instrumentation and pumps at all times. The Task Force noted it will take some time for a full understanding of the sequence of events and condition of the spent fuel pools. The report said based on information available to date the two most cogent insights related to the availability of pool instrumentation and the plant’s capability for cooling and water inventory management;

• Requiring reliable hardened vent designs in boiling water reactors (BWRs) with Mark I and Mark II containments;

• Strengthening and integrating onsite emergency response capabilities such as emergency operating procedures, severe accident management guidelines and extensive damage mitigation guidelines.

The full report can be found here: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1118/ML111861807.pdf. Broad recommendations are contained in the Executive Summary, and details on recommendations can be found in Appendix A.

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

6 thoughts on “Japan Task Force Report Now Public”

  1. The Leak Detection system design requirements in BWRs should be looked at more closely. From what I remember studying leak detection in RHR rooms, that only a single power supply to the leak detection in an RHR room met design requirements

  2. These proposals are a good start but not nearly enough. Come on ,a 72 hour battery, I think we have already established that the power can be out for months or years. But this point appears to be moot, and I would caution you about making too many bold statements, the corporations have gotten wind of this report. Here is what they had to say:

    “We’re still digesting the contents of the report,” said Tony Pietrangelo, senior vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association. But Pietrangelo told reporters that the NRC needed additional input from the industry before approving any new regulations.
    “I might have done it a little bit differently in separating out what the near-term Fukushima lessons learned are versus a sweeping review of the entire regulatory framework,” Pietrangelo told reporters Wednesday. “I think we can do it more efficiently, more effectively, more holistically, but that takes time.”
    Pietrangelo said the U.S. nuclear industry is likely to see higher costs in the aftermath of Fukushima Daiichi, but “It remains to be seen which recommendations will be implemented and how they’ll be implemented.”
    “At this point, I think the entire report should be vetted with not only the commission, as it will be, but with the broader spectrum of stakeholders across the board to sort it out and get added perspective to the table about how to proceed,” he said.”

    Well, reading between the lines it looks like what the nuclear industry trade organization is saying is that this is going to cost them money, and they plan on telling the NRC what they will or will not do. Again I would caution the NRC about giving the public any bold assurances. I’d hate to see you guys eating crow and saying things like “well the task force’s findings were merely recommendations, the industry has already addressed the problem with VOLENTARY methods” or “ we don’t want to regulate so strictly that we create a environment that is HOSTILE TO BUSINESS and STIFLES INOVATION”.
    Once the corporations get wind of the costs all these “recommendations” will most likely be out the window. There is money to be made the corps can’t be bothered by the potential destruction of the country. I suspect calls will be made and these recommendations will be quietly forgotten, after all money talks and what was it that walks?
    Also, the recommendation that vents be installed at the GEMK 1s is garbage. If the NRC had a shred of credibility they would shut these plants down immediately. Every time this containment system is tested it fails. And you already have vents, they had them in Japan, guess what, the containment still failed!
    One more thing, I see that you guys refused to extend the PRM-50-96 dead line. I think you said something like the events at Fukushima were not related to the petition, even though it focuses on long term cooling and spent fuel pools, two major issues at Fukushima. I’m just glad that you decided to post it for public comment in the first place. At least now when the grid goes down there will be a record that you were warned about the danger repeatedly. I have absolutely no hope that this petition will be adopted ,if the nuclear industry is scoffing at 72 hour batteries what will they say about a requirement for two year emergency cooling of spent fuel pools, they‘ll laugh in your face. I’m sorry but it appears that the NRC is a rubber stamp agency, that is totally in the pocket of industry, may God have mercy on us all.

  3. That seems like a great idea about the watertight enclosures. You would think that waterproofing would have been thought of if you are building something near the coast.

  4. Alan Horn, Nuc PE, July 13, 2011

    A little while ago my son and I were discussing the problems at Fukushima and I noted that the loss of the diesels due to flooding was one of the problems. He asked why the diesels were not higher in the building and I said because the heavy mass would be a problem in earthquakes. Since I had served on submarines, and he knew this, he said why not put the diesels in watertight enclosures – basically like submarines. There could be inlet snorkels and high exhaust stacks protected from damage that would allow the diesels to run even if the surounding part of the plant was under water. This idea should be credited to him, Thomas Horn.

  5. The Leak Detection system design requirements in BWRs should be looked at more closely. From what I remember studying leak detection in RHR rooms, that only a single power supply to the leak detection in an RHR room met design requirements. That meant that if that power supply was lost and a leak occurred in a room, the room might not get isolated. That never made sense.

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