Astounding Facts about the NRC and Radioactive Materials: Part II

Brenda Akstulewicz
Regulatory Information Conference Assistant

As promised, here are some more interesting bits of information about the NRC and nuclear history and science.

washingmachine• The indicator lights in early appliances ─ such as clothes washers and dryers, coffeemakers, and stereos ─ used Krypton–85, a radioactive isotope.

• The Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs consults with 31 federally recognized Native American tribes on proposed new uranium recovery projects in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska.

• The NRC performs classified reviews of new Naval Reactor submarine and aircraft carrier reactor plants and provides advice to the Navy on the designs. This practice was initiated by President Kennedy in the 1960s.female

• Three women, including the current chairman, Allison Macfarlane have held the title of Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The other two are Shirley Jackson and Greta Dicus.

• From 2007 to 2012, NRC received 68 petitions for rulemaking. Of those, 21 were denied and 17 were either fully considered or partially considered in the rulemaking process. The remaining 30 are under staff review.

• In the past five years, the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research has issued 244 new or revised regulatory guides, withdrawn 43 guides, and determined another 48 guides to be acceptable as written.

• Glenn T. Seaborg, the scientist who discovered plutonium, was also a chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission – the predecessor of the NRC.

florida• In 1992 Hurricane Andrew struck the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Southern Florida, which prompted the NRC and FEMA to enter into a “Memorandum of Understanding” regarding emergency preparedness.

• NRC’s longest serving commissioner was Commissioner Edward McGaffigan. He served 11 years (from1996-2007) after appointments twice by President Clinton and once by President Bush. He died while still serving on the Commission.

• There are 438 nuclear power reactors operating worldwide.

exitsigns• Tritium gas is used to illuminate exit signs in buildings so they will function without power. Promethium-147 and Krypton-85 are approved by the NRC for use in exits signs.

• On average, NRC expends 6,160 hours of inspection effort at each operating reactor site each year.

Keeping Fort Calhoun’s Tornado Analysis Up To Date

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

When someone mentions the Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska, flooding issues are probably what comes to mind these days. But the tornadoplant has to withstand everything that Mother Nature can throw at it and tornadoes, obviously, are in the mix.

Fort Calhoun’s been doing some work recently that has the plant operator asking the NRC for permission to revise how its license specifies how to determine tornado effects. Fort Calhoun’s request fits into its ongoing efforts to resolve the issues that have kept the plant shut down since early 2011. The plant, about 19 miles north of Omaha, Neb., has already reinforced several areas of the site against potential tornado damage based on analysis with an NRC-approved method.

That method uses more realistic criteria related to the impact of flying debris in a tornado. While that tornado analysis method is approved, Fort Calhoun’s license still reflects older information, so the plant needs to formally bring the license into line with the analysis method’s criteria.

Fort Calhoun’s owner, the Omaha Public Power District, believes their proposed license change won’t affect the plant’s overall risk of an accident, and the company’s asked the NRC to review the request using a faster process. If we agree a quicker review is appropriate, we could come to a decision on the license change within a couple of days and then offer an opportunity for a public hearing after the change.

More information on Fort Calhoun’s request is available on the NRC’s website, and we have a notice in the local paper as well. Our public meeting in Omaha tonight will discuss our inspection activities and the overall progress Fort Calhoun has made in addressing agency concerns, as well as this most recent request.

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