Recapping a Year’s Worth of Fukushima-Related Work

JLD vertical CTo implement what we’ve learned from 2011’s Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, the NRC in November 2011 created a group of more than 20 full-time employees focused exclusively on these activities. This Japan Lessons Learned Project Directorate is now a year old, and everything it’s accomplished to date highlights our dedication to enhancing U.S. nuclear power plant safety.

The directorate’s initial focus, with support from across the NRC and other federal agencies, was issuing orders and requests for information in March 2012 that address many of the lessons we’ve learned.

The Mitigation Strategies order ensures that U.S. reactors will have additional emergency power supplies and other equipment to safely handle extreme natural disasters. The Reliable Hardened Vents order ensures U.S. reactors similar to Fukushima will have more robust systems to vent pressure and hydrogen, helping avoid the explosions we saw during the accident. The Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation order ensures U.S. reactors will be better able to monitor how much water is in their spent fuel pools during an emergency. The information requests have plants reconsidering their earthquake and flooding hazards in light of the latest information, and also ask plants to consider their emergency plans for such situations.

Our work on these issues in fiscal year 2012 included 82 public meetings, and the entire agency devoted 51,203 person-hours to Fukushima-related activities. That’s the equivalent of 43 full-time staff members working on these improvements.

Across the country nuclear power plants are responding to our efforts; all 104 U.S. reactors have performed two walkdowns per reactor, one for earthquake issues and one for flooding. The plants have sent us hundreds of updates, covering issues such as the status of newly purchased equipment for safely handling a prolonged blackout and new spent fuel pool instrumentation.

JLD vertical CWe’ve also created this logo to help you identify our work on implementing the lessons we’ve learned. The bonsai tree represents Japanese culture, with the green foliage in the shape of Japan’s islands representing hope and growth. The red sun comes from Japan’s flag, and the base of the logo represents a solid foundation of cooperation and understanding. It’s important to remember that the NRC’s work on Fukushima-related matters applies only to U.S. reactors. Japan’s decisions on issues, such as restarting reactors, are entirely that country’s and independent of the NRC’s activities.

All the work we’ve completed this past year sets the foundation for several additional years of action on the orders and requests for information. We expect to get the first sets of flooding and seismic re-analyses next year, as well as every plant’s integrated approach to complying with the orders. We’re also planning several long-term activities looking into other aspects of what happened at Fukushima, so keep an eye out for further developments.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

Author: Moderator

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

8 thoughts on “Recapping a Year’s Worth of Fukushima-Related Work”

  1. Anti-nukers;

    Do try cough up all your allegations and “proof” in black and white, which otherwise is disingenuous. You’re act like you’re more knowledgeable and concerned than the engineers and technicians involved in this issue, and slyly trying to make the NRC and nuclear plant operators appear evasive by making unreasonable demands no industry would stoop to. What — you want any member of the public peering over the shoulder of each nuclear worker turning a wrench to placate your qualms? Ain’t going to happen like your local restaurant letting you in the kitchen to oversee the cook. It’s one thing to provide sincere constructive criticism and inquiry, but your intent is simply to carp and flail hatchets against nuclear energy with death-by-a-thousand-cuts nitpicking and exaggerations of known and addressed issues. There’s NO amount of perfected design and preparation or historic safety and health record of nuclear plants and their communities that will ever placate your implacable industrial health/safety hypocrisy and irrational philosophical beefs and eternal nightmares of mutant monsters or atom wars, so trying to educate and reassure you is a lost pointless cause. I only regret that you’re all running amok spreading FUD to the science illiterate and clueless who will suffer the historically and globally documented and recorded health and environmental consequences of fossil fuel use if rabid fear triumphs reason and fact, and who need well-rounded info on this issue than one-sided emote-grabbing Doomsday trolls who chicken from real debate.

    Again, cough up your specific and certified evil-atom proof and maybe I’ll think different.

    Seasons Greetings All!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  2. Adding valves and hookups is simple, after You got the NRC approval.
    In the Fukushima Daiichi case the venting of exhaust of RHIC not into the torus’ pool would prolong the sufficient cooling of the reactor core. And have dedicated manual valves for steam routing on and off the RHIC with the knowledge that the operators have to prevent the ignition of zirc water firestorm in the core for any cost and adding an easy replenishment capability to the torus seems to me is sufficient.
    Is there a will in the NRC? The plant specific actions demonstrate a face saving effort, not a solution of the problem.

  3. I’m not sure how you are going to gravity flood into a BWR….there are no existing above reactor pools which have available water capacity (they are for spent fuel protection)…nor are there valves or hookups.

    And NOTHING in nuclear is a “simple” change.

  4. My only hope that in the long-term activities the issue of rapid depressurization and gravity flooding of reactor core becomes number one priority. Unfortunately the sweeping under the rug of the real key process in all the severe accidents, leading to fuel damage, – the zirconium reaction with the super-heated steam – did not stop yet. Without recognizing this key phenomenon the NRC (and IAEA) is not helping the development of unquestionably safe nuclear reactors. Please, stop the face-saving and whitewashing! All the PWRs and BWRs could be made safe by providing means of rapid depressurization and gravity flooding, which should be activated in any case if (1) the state of the reactor becomes questionable, (2) the forced circulation of coolant through the core is lost or (3) the connection to the heat-sink, the transfer of heat from the reactor core to the ultimate heat-sink is severed.
    Most of the plants already have the means to do that, only rewriting of operating manuals and some modifications are necessary. And the knowledge that the operators have to prevent the ignition of zirc water firestorm in the core for any cost!

  5. This blog addresses the technical issues we looked at. What about their safety culture? What advances have been made in that area?

  6. It would be extremely useful for the public to be able to see the progress at each nuclear plant. A website documenting the proposed changes and those that have been completed at each unit would give an easy to understand visual for the public to see where things are at. I get asked frequently does such and such reactor have an upgraded item off the list of proposed changes yet?

    Something along those lines would allow the public to better understand what is already accomplished and also what is in the works at each location.

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