NRC Talking Research Next Week in Virginia, Pennsylvania

We recently issued the draft report summarizing several years’ worth of detailed research and analyses into what might happen during an accident at a nuclear power plant. Now we’re heading to the two plants we analyzed — one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania — to discuss the results with the surrounding communities.

The project, called the State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses, or SOARCA, looked at situations that could disable a reactor’s normal safety systems. The project used powerful computer programs to predict the plants’ behavior based on decades of real-world experiments into issues such as how reactor fuel responds during the extreme temperatures expected during these accidents. SOARCA then plugged up-to-date information about the plants, including the latest updates to plant systems and operations, into the programs and examined how an accident might unfold.

SOARCA found that additional equipment the NRC required after the 9/11 attacks can, if used according to plan, help prevent a reactor accident from affecting public health. Even if accidents can’t be controlled with the new equipment, the research came to three basic conclusions:

• Accidents occur much more slowly than we originally thought;

• Accidents release much less radioactive material that we originally thought; and

• The emergency plans every U.S. reactor has in place can keep people safe.

The project came to some more specific conclusions about accident effects around the two plants, Surry (southeast of Richmond, Va.), and Peach Bottom (southeast of Lancaster, Pa.). For example, the slowly developing nature of the accidents and the existing emergency plans would keep everyone safe, even during uncontrolled accidents.

Some of the NRC staff involved in SOARCA will discuss the project on Feb. 21 in Surry, Va., and then on Feb. 22 in Delta, Pa. Details are available in the press release .

If you have comments on the draft report, you have until March 1 to send them in. The best way to comment is through , using Docket ID NRC-2012-0022. You can also mail comments (referencing the Docket ID) to Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001. Comments can also be faxed to 301-492-3446, referencing the Docket ID.

If you submit comments in writing or in electronic form, they will be posted on the NRC website and on The NRC will not edit or remove any identifying or contact information; please don’t include any information you wish to keep private.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

Author: Moderator

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

9 thoughts on “NRC Talking Research Next Week in Virginia, Pennsylvania”

  1. Everybody will be safe even during uncontrolled accidents, im afraid this is a little hard to believe. How can the unknown be marked as safe?
    Nuclear is getting safer and more efficient and it keeps electricity costs low, but these companies should be investing in cleaner methods also, like wind, solar, tidal etc.

  2. I just find it very difficult to believe that somehow circumstances just happened to occur that were completely unforeseeable. While I belive nuclear power can be made safe, I also believe that the profit-motive undermines the ability of the builders and operators of nuclear power plants from doing everything necessary to ensure Public Safety.

  3. This is a wise investment. The world has had a chance to see firsthand what happens when there is a accident a nuclear plant. I can’t wait to see any follow-up posts on this. Thanks all.

  4. Will either of the meetings to discuss SOARCA be web broadcasts or possibly tele-communication accessible? (For some reason the press release is not loading for me.) I would love to hear about the project in more detail.

  5. A brief review resulted in that the key process of Zirconium firestorm in steam is still missing.
    I found two key issues to rise regarding the severe accident phenomena.
    1. NRC is obsessed with post fuel damage phenomena and a lack of effort to avoid the damage to the fuel is evident.
    2. The operators are not dealt with the deserved respect and do not have necessary means for interfering with the progression of a severe accident.
    It is necessary to revise the regulatory environment and correct it on the knowledge basis, including the zirconium firestorm in the steam as the leading severe accident phenomenon.
    Doing that will require the addition of a vent-depressurization line from the top of reactor of PWR type and the rerouting to the atmosphere of an alternate relief line from the turbine driven emergency cooling pumps of BWR reactors, which are left to be operated without any power source directly by the operators. It will add a shortcut pathway for energy release directly from the reactor into the atmosphere, operated by the operators in case of a severe accident. With sufficient gravity (staged precharged) water reserves it will avoid the zirconium firestorm in the core and the fuel damage.

  6. It might be time to review safty measures at the site before any major accidents take place hopefully things can be resolved.

  7. This is a wise investment. The world has had a chance to see firsthand what happens when there is a accident a nuclear plant. I can’t wait to see any follow-up posts on this. Thanks all.

  8. This blog’s discusion extension to accident boundry conditions beyond the two cited reactors opens the realm of US reactors to evaluation. Your attention is respectfully invited to the non fiction,”Goodby Phoenix Hello Tucson”, ISBN 142516083-2. With winds from the West in eleven months of each year,temperatures at,or over, 122 degrees F and with evacuations such as Fukushima and Chernobyl denying coolant water from Phoenix area, what is NRC’s evaluation of this worst case nuclear power plant’s accident of a COLA(cooling water pipe break) with ultimate meltdown.

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