Sixty-Plus Years of Reactor Safety Advice — and Still Going Strong

Ed Hackett
Executive Director
Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards

For as long as the United States has worked on commercial nuclear power plants, a group of experts has given regulators independent safety advice. Since Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the group’s been called the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.

The committee’s dozen or so members contribute decades of academic and/or practical experience in their specialties, which include risk assessment, health physics, accident analysis and several types of engineering. Past and present committee members have also lent their expertise to international regulators.

Members of the ACRS brief the NRC Commission.
Members of the ACRS brief the NRC Commission.

When there’s an opening on the committee, the Commission chooses a replacement from nominees among the leading experts in a given specialty. Committee members are supported by a small group of NRC staff who focus solely on the committee’s independent activities.

The full committee meets 10 times a year, spending several days each time to discuss a broad range of topics. For instance, this month’s meeting agenda included a developing new rule related to safety enhancements based on lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident. Other meetings have covered reviews of new reactor licensing topics and operating reactor license renewal, as well as proposed facilities to create radioactive material for medical uses.

Committee members ask detailed questions of both NRC staff and industry representatives. If members feel an issue needs more explanation or analysis, they’ll keep asking questions and challenging assumptions until they’re satisfied. All of this interaction contributes to the committee’s opinions on the topics.

The committee’s conclusions, which are independent of the NRC staff’s work, are provided in formal letters to the NRC’s Chairman. The Commission takes the committee’s views into account when it considers licensing or policy matters. The committee also meets publicly with the Commission at least once a year to discuss major topics. The Commission uses the advice provided by the committee, in addition to the information provided by the NRC staff, in reaching its decisions on regulatory matters.

The committee also has an obligation to advise the U.S. Navy on its nuclear reactor program, as well as the Defense Nuclear Safety Board, which deals with Department of Energy-controlled facilities.

The committee does all of this work according to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. This means all committee meetings are public, except when discussing sensitive information the NRC needs to protect. It also means the public can speak and present information to the committee. Keep an eye on our schedule to see when we’ll discuss something you’re interested in. Also, see our YouTube videeo on the ACRS.

Author: Moderator

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

32 thoughts on “Sixty-Plus Years of Reactor Safety Advice — and Still Going Strong”

  1. Those Damn Reactor Operators!

    And now mjd for a little nuclear tongue in cheek…

    Can you just imagine what was really going through the minds of the nuke utility execs, the ACRS, the NRC, the nuclear reactor vendors, and Naval Reactors to the accident at TMI2?!

    Why those damn reactor operators! They have gone and spoiled it all! I always knew they were the weak link in the system! I just knew they would eventually screw things up. We gave them everything and this is the thanks we get! They are just overpaid and lazy. They obviously went to sleep at the switch and now there is hell to pay. We need to really square them away! Let’s hire many more inspectors and inspect quality into this operation. They are jeopardizing our pocketbooks and livelihoods. If they would have just used common sense and kept track of the big picture none of this would have happened. We taught them everything we know and they just overreacted. If they just hadn’t messed with our beautiful technology! Why didn’t they just keep their damn hands off the controls. Inadequate training, hell, we just had inadequate operators. We really don’t need to fundamentally change a thing. We, however, need much more oversight of this untrustworthy lot. We need not one but two resident NRC inspectors at each nuclear site. We need technical advisors and engineers on each shift who will really focus on reactor safety. And we need lots more procedures and verbatim compliance. And we have got to make sure these operators are fit for duty. We now have to spend lots of extra money to make folks think we are doing the right thing. Millions on simulators, INPO, emergency planning, etc, etc. What a waste!

  2. AND mjd I can blame the Naval Nuclear Reactors training program as well. You somehow kept the big picture. From day one of nuclear power hasn’t the emphasis always been on the #1 priority-keeping the core covered, cooled, and subcritical?! Even in the NR program going solid in the reactor cooling system was a sin against God, country, and Rickover personally! (And at the time I was much more afraid of Rickover than the other two). I think I would have responded as a EOOW to avoid going solid at any cost then, totally forgetting about my #1 priority. I do not recall any Navy training that told me going solid was not the end of the world as we know it. So you rupture the cooling system, just scram the reactor and go to “FILL” to keep the core covered, right?! How could we have been so myopic back then?! Is there something like that still out there that might get in the way of our #1 priority?!

  3. And mjd I am sorry but I certainly did not want to imply that all pre-TMI training was suspect. Operators responded well to a number of very abnormal events as you stated. It is just that the most important part of the training was lost in the flavor of the month topic.

  4. Yes I remember mjd. We were around when the ships were made of wood and the men were made of steel! We flew better by the seat of pants than these new schoolers can walk wrapped in all their suffocating paperwork. You are an old schooler who had the big picture. I confess that this old schooler may have followed that old myopic training just like the TMI2 folks did 35 years ago. So it goes without saying, in my view, the TMI2 opeators were never at fault and do not need to be exonerated in any way. The buck remains with the NRC and B&W. That is why I worry about the future. We still have these massive teflon institutions that never accept responsibility for anything.

  5. PPB, if you are an “old schooler” and like to read new schooler comments questioning my historical perspective, read the comments here: http://atomicinsights.com/tmi-operators-took-actions-trained-take/
    There are new school nuke trainers who basically refuse to believe my recall of history that I lived through relative to the wrong training specific to the TMI2 event.
    As far as the general conclusion that all of the pre-TMI2 Operator training was inadequate or bad, history shows that is a mis-characterization. Just look at several extremely messy stinky pre-TMI2 events. The Browns Ferry fire or the Rancho Seco loss of NNI to name two. Virtually no training and no procedures for those events. How did that success happen… totally “skill of the craft” as a result of those Operator’s total training package.
    The problem with the TMI2 conclusions is the Institutional Arrogance (at the time) of the whole industry did not allow it to accept it was not the fault of the last guys to touch the technology. They did what they were trained to do, within the limits of their ability to understand an event the PWR Industry did not even understand, and further it ignored the precursor warnings. So how did I make it? I did what plant designers and trainers fear, I abandoned my training and procedures and relied on my whole training and experience level to think it through. Which is exactly the responsibility I accept with an SRO license, and also what I was paid to do. So yes, my nose gets bent when I am accused in writing in an official NRC report of suffering from Cognitive Dissonance and Operator Error. No, the whole training package was not bad… the understanding of a specific event was wrong. And it is way past the time for the TMI2 Operators to be exonerated in the view of public and official opinion. Mike Derivan.

  6. Duh! It took me a long time, typical for my age though, to figure out just who Rod Adams and “mjd” were?! Thanks for your valuable insights. I just discovered Rod’s March 25, 2014, article published by the American Nuclear Society on “What Did We Learn from TMI?” It is outstanding and leaves out nothing. The comments that are posted on the article are for the most part outstanding too, including comments by “mjd”. I did not know that the ACRS was aware of the TMI-precursor event at Davis-Besse in 1977. Yet because of the lack of an industry system for sharing industry operating experience, the word never got out to the staff at TMI. What changes were made to ACRS policies and procedures post-TMI to address lessons learned from the TMI accident?

  7. No doubt Dave significant improvements have been made in training since TMI. But how do we know this upgraded training is effective? It took a serious accident to tell us that our training was woefully inadequate 35 years ago. Are we just going through the motions? Have we become complacent? Are we overlooking something important? My point is that we must prevent another TMI (or worse) from ever happening again. I do not want to learn from another serious event.
    I helped train a cold license class of reactor operators in the early ‘70s. I thought that the training was top drawer then and I thought the training was just fine just prior to the TMI accident. But it was NOT fine!
    When a top reactor safety board, the ACRS, all but forgets about taking a hard look at human performance and training in our nuclear power plant fleet, it is easy to think others will not take it seriously either. Or at least will tend to take it for granted.
    There are over 450 nuclear power plants in the world. One hundred of those are in the US. Yet the US has had over two-thirds of all the nuclear mishaps in the world since Chernobyl in 1986. Has anyone taken a hard look at why?!
    Event after event is still reported at our power plants at an alarming rate. Repeat events are occurring also. Most involve human error.
    The ACRS and the NRC are looking at tons of minutia. New nuke plant designs; DOE stuff; power up rates, revision after revision to regulatory standards; license extensions; etc. There is no high level focus on the most important safety factor, our operators, technicians, engineers, and maintenance personnel. It is high time we get our safety priorities straightened out!

  8. Why do you think that there hasn’t been a focus on training since TMI? Operator training has seen considerable improvement since TMI. Operators spend one week out of six in training. There are specific topics that the NRC requires to be covered per NUREG-1122. Additionally they take a re qualification exam annually consisting of a written exam, a simulator exam, and an in-plant walk through covering abnormal and emergency actions. Failure of the exam results in the operator being removed from licensed duties and must complete retraining and pass the requalification exam prior to resuming licensed duties.
    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr1122/r2/sr1122r2.pdf

  9. Good points Rod. But I still don’t want nuclear plants in the backyard of major cities. Even in the event of a false alarm that initially tells 300,000+ people to evacuate the 10-mile radius of Indian Point, some of those people will die. Over 1,000 people have died in Japan simply because of the evacuation stress. Older folks and those that are handicapped are particularly affected. People died there because of the stress of being evaucated and because they had no idea when they would be allowed to go home. Rod, why take the chance?!

  10. It’s Never Too Late to Focus on the Most Important Thing

    31 years ago “Admiral Hyman George Rickover’s Assessment of TMI” was published. This is a quote from that report…

    “After the technical design of the plant itself, the most important element in assuring reliable and safe operation of a nuclear power plant is the training of the crew who will operate the plant.”

    Since 100 nuclear power plants in the US have been designed and are now operating, it would be most appropriate if the NRC and the ACRS would finally focus on training.

  11. What an eye-opener mjd! The link you provided lead to one of the most detailed analyses I have read about the TMI-2 accident. Thank you so much for providing it! And it is written by a licensed senior operator who served as a Shift Supervisor at Davis Besse 18 months before the TMI accident. I am so glad you are continuing to try and get the truth out after so many years.
    Incidentally, I think it interesting that you asked for a response from Ed Hackett, the ACRS liason, and got a “response” from Scott the PR guy. I put response in quotes because look at the “response” you got from Scott. Not an answer but a long list of documents, most of which you were probably already aware. I know Ed is very busy passing along loads of documents from the NRC to the ACRS, but I believe he would truly have tried to answer your question. Since no one has tried to give you a specific answer, let me take a stab at it. After all I am the guy who stated that the root cause of the TMI accident was “inadequate operator training’. My source for that statement was from what I recalled from an INPO document that was issued as a TMI “case study” or words to that effect. This INPO document was well done but I no longer have access to it as it was INPO confidential. I only got to see it since I worked for a nuke utility at the time. The only document that I could find in the public domain that cited “inadequate emergency response training” as the root cause was an World Nuclear Organization (WNO) document issued 3/2001 and updated 1/2012. It listed inadequate training as well as “deficient control room instrumentation” as joint root causes of the accident at TMI. Nothing in all that I have read about TMI, til you spoke up, mentions what was truly behind these “root causes”! I am not a conspiracy fan, but there appears to be a conspiracy to keep the real truth from the public. Precursor events were not properly evaluated for starters. The training program developed by B&W was seriously deficient for another. Material information was ignored or discounted was another. Bottom line is that TMI did not need to have happened at all. Proper followup after these precusor events would have shown that the training provided was in fact “negative training”. I contacted my former training coordinator at the nuke plant where I worked and he said the same thing you and the “Shifter” have said. The operators responded just as the way they had been trained. In fact my training coordinator said that the NRC was complicit as they required annual re-qualification training on the dangers of overfilling the reactor cooling system or taking the plant to a “hydro” condition as you point out. Operators were really trained to avoid that situation at all costs. None of the training pointed out that under certain conditions overriding automatic filling systems can lead to insufficient reactor cooling when boiling has occurred in the reactor vessel itself. The NRC, like B&W, has never fessed up to their role in causing the accident at TMI. However, the NRC is where the buck stops on reactor operator training. They certify each and every reactor operator in this country. They approve each and every operator training program in this country. It is high time they admit to being wrong and for letting others be the scapegoats. What else is the NRC hiding?

  12. @Scott Burnell

    You did not answer Mike Derivan’s specific question. Instead you resorted to the technique that students often call “baffling with BS” when faced with an essay question that they do not know how to answer.

    Perhaps somewhere, buried in thousands of pages contained in the list of references that you provide, there is some kind of recognition that someone understands what Derivan is referring to. (BTW, Derivan was the SRO at Davis Besse in September 1977 when it experienced an event that was virtually identical to TMI for the first 22 minutes.)

    Here is what the “fact sheet” states, which indicates a continuing lack of understanding of what really caused the operators to take the actions that they took.

    “As coolant flowed from the primary system through the valve, other instruments available to reactor operators provided inadequate information. There was no instrument that showed how much water covered the core. As a result, plant staff assumed that as long as the pressurizer water level was high, the core was properly covered with water. As alarms rang and warning lights flashed, the operators did not realize that the plant was experiencing a loss-of-coolant accident. They took a series of actions that made conditions worse. The water escaping through the stuck valve reduced primary system pressure so much that the reactor coolant pumps had to be turned off to prevent dangerous vibrations. To prevent the pressurizer from filling up completely, the staff reduced how much emergency cooling water was being pumped in to the primary system. These actions starved the reactor core of coolant, causing it to overheat.”

    You see, the operators at TMI, like all other PWR operators before them, had been trained to accept the pressurizer level indication as THE indication of water level inside the primary system. Under all expected conditions, the pressurizer was supposed to be the only place in the primary system where the water was boiling and where steam could form.

    Simulators at the time were programmed to indicate that the pressurizer water level would fall any time that there was any leak from the primary coolant system, including a stuck open steam space relief valve.

    All PWRs shared the same assumption, which proved, several times before TMI, to be incorrect. A steam space leak lowered system pressure fast enough so that boiling could occur in other places in the primary system, forcing water from those other parts of the system into the pressurizer and making the pressurizer level increase. A contributing effect which did the same thing to indicated level was that water condensed in the level indicator reference leg would flash to steam, again making it appear to the operator that the pressurizer was full or even overfull of water.

    According to their training, the operators did not recognize that there was a primary coolant leak. All of them remembered their repeated warning from simulation training – “Don’t let the system go solid.” Since the HPI did not have an automatic shut off, they were trained to turn off the pumps in the case where they automatically started and pressurizer level was under control.

    The NRC was one of the few places where individual plant reports were sent for evaluation. There was no means of direct communication between Davis Besse and TMI. If the NRC had warned operators after the precursors happened, TMI might have remained as anonymous as most other US nuclear plants.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    Host and producer, the Atomic Show podcast

  13. The NRC’s fact sheet on the Three Mile Island accident http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.html includes a discussion of the events that resulted in the reactor’s partial meltdown.

    Additional sources for information on Three Mile Island include:

    NRC Annual Report – 1979, NUREG-0690
    “Population Dose and Health Impact of the Accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station,” NUREG-0558
    “Environmental Assessment of Radiological Effluents from Data Gathering and Maintenance Operation on Three Mile Island Unit 2,” NUREG-0681
    “Report of The President’s Commission on The Accident at Three Mile Island,” October, 1979
    “Investigation into the March 28, 1979 Three Mile Island Accident by the Office of Inspection and Enforcement,” NUREG-0600
    “Three Mile Island; A Report to the Commissioners and to the Public,” by Mitchell Rogovin and George T. Frampton, NUREG/CR-1250, Vols. I-II, 1980
    “Lessons learned From the Three Mile Island – Unit 2 Advisory Panel,@ NUREG/CR-6252
    “The Status of Recommendations of the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island,” (A ten-year review), NUREG-1355
    “NRC Views and Analysis of the Recommendations of the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island,” NUREG-0632
    “Environmental Impact Statement related to decontamination and disposal of radioactive wastes resulting from March 28, 1979 accident Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2,” NUREG-0683
    “Answers to Questions About Updated Estimates of Occupational Radiation Doses at Three Mile Island, Unit 2,” NUREG-1060
    “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Cleanup Activities at Three Mile Island, Unit 2,” NUREG-0732
    “Status of Safety Issues at Licensed Power Plants” (TMI Action Plan Reqmts.), NUREG-1435
    Walker, J. Samuel, Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

    Scott Burnell

  14. @Public Pit Bull

    Indian Point was purposely located 35 miles from a major population center instead of approving the more financially and technically logical location initially proposed by Consolidated Edison. The proposed Ravenswood plant would have been built in Long Island City, on the Queens waterfront, just 2 miles from Times Square.

    Until the ACRS determined that nuclear power plants did not yet have a sufficient operating history to justify putting a large plant in the heart of a metropolitan area, they demanded the dual protection of BOTH remote siting AND a robust containment vessel. Only one of the two is really justified.

    Until recently, I had difficulty understanding why the ACRS, led at that time by the father of the hydrogen bomb, was so worried about the possibility of a small amount of radioactive material being released in the event of a major accident. I think I’ve now figured out the motives behind his seemingly contradictory positions.

    Speaking as someone who purposely chose to live and work within 200 feet of a nuclear reactor and to start a family in a city that, at times, hosted a dozen or more contained reactors at the Naval Station located within half a dozen miles from our home, I fail to understand why people who claim to be consumer advocates demand remote siting for non-polluting, virtually emission free nuclear power plants.

    Yes, people were evacuated by government order as a result of both TMI and Fukushima. Neither evacuation was necessary. In fact, both of them increased overall public risk rather than decreasing it.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    Host and producer, the Atomic Show podcast

  15. Mr. Hackett, At “Public Pit Bull December 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm”, the statement was made:
    ” Inadequate training of operators was the root cause of the accident at the Three Mile Island (TMI) NPP.”
    I would like to know if you agree or disagree with this statement? If you agree with it, can you please provide a link to an official NRC (or ACRS) source document where a “Root Cause” of the TMI2 accident is clearly stated. It would also be helpful if you could provide a link to a document where the “charter” of an investigation of the accident asked for the “Root Cause” to be determined, rather than just provide “Corrective Action to Prevent Recurrence.”
    The “Root Cause” of the TMI2 accident has never been officially acknowledged. Before you answer this question, I suggest you read http://www.nukeknews.com/index.html and also NRC database document: accession number ML14167A165.
    For what it is worth, characterizing a dozen different Operators, at two different plants eighteen months apart all doing the exact wrong thing in the first ten minutes of an event as a “training failure” is hardly the case. It was a training success by any measure; that’s what Operators are trained to do, do as they are trained. No, the failure was in the understanding of the event by the designers and design approvers, which provided the basis for the wrong training given to these dozen Operators. And then the four event precursor warnings were ignored by the responsible organization, the NRC, including the ACRS participation. The precursor events clearly showed the event was misunderstood, and that misunderstanding would lead Operators to take wrong action based on their training. Anxiously awaiting your reply.

  16. You may also be interested in David Okrent’s ‘book’ – it is on ADAMS under ML090630275. It is big (~800 pages) of first-hand history by one who was on the ACRS in the 1960s.

  17. More Emphasis Needed On Human Performance

    I am sure the Chairman of the ACRS can support, given his background in the international nuclear community, the importance of this IAEA safety statement…

    “The capabilities and limitations of human performance shall be taken into account at all stages in the life of the installation.”

    IAEA Safety Publication 1220 goes on to discuss two types of safety- the technical aspects of safety and the human performance aspects of safety. The human performance aspects of safety include human factors, the training of personnel, and a safety culture that encompasses policies, managers, supervisors, and individuals.

    There are 100 US nuclear plants operating in the US. The technical safety aspects of their design are for the most part, set. The human performance aspects are the ones that need on-going emphasis to ensure safe operation of our aging nuclear power plant fleet.

    Given that over two-thirds of the world’s nuclear power plant mishaps have occurred in the US since TMI and Chernobyl, it is high time that much more emphasis is placed on human performance in US nuclear power plants.

    Please consider restructuring the ACRS to greatly increase the human performance safety oversight of our nation’s nuclear power plant fleet or form a separate independent body that will focus on human performance.

  18. Mr. Moderator, I noted with pride that the current leaders of the ACRS and the Member at Large of the ACRS have practical backgrounds rooted in being licensed operators or having experience with the US Naval Reactors program. Many of us remember Admiral Rickover and his emphasis on safety from the outset of nuclear power in the late ‘40s. Here are some of his basic principles…

    “What it takes to do a job cannot be learned from academic courses. It is principally a matter of experience, proper attitude, and common sense. None of which can be taught in the classroom.”

    “One must create the ability in his staff to generate clear, forceful arguments for opposing viewpoints as well as their own. Open discussions and disagreements must be encouraged, so that all sides of an issue are fully explored.”

    “The man in charge must concern himself with the details. If he does not consider them important, neither will his subordinates.”

    “The devil is in the details, but so is salvation.”

  19. ACRS Lacks Focus and Practical Experience

    Thanks Ed for the links to the additional information on ACRS members and activities.

    Although the ACRS Chairman and Vice Chairman have practical nuclear power plant experience, the other eleven members are primarily academics, researchers, and engineers who would be lost in a nuclear power plant (NPP).

    Power reactors in the US should be the primary focus of the ACRS. Existing power reactors pose the greatest threat to public health and safety. Power reactors are also prime terrorist targets. Yet what does the ACRS spend most of its time reviewing?! Mostly anything but existing nuclear power plant safety,

    Just take a look at all the ACRS subcommittees. Of the 16 subcommittees I identified in my review only four had anything to do with existing nuclear power plants. Only one subcommittee even had Plant Operations in its title. Get this, though, there were at least five subcommittees on future nuclear plant designs. There are 100 existing nuclear power plants in the US and only five new nuke plants are even being considered. And these will probably never end up being built and operated. But you know academics and researchers and engineer’s love working on cutting-edge stuff. It would not be nearly as interesting for these nerds to seriously review and critique antique existing nuclear power plants.

    It is not totally the ACRS that is at fault however. The NRC Commission sends tons of stuff to the ACRS for review. And most of the stuff has nothing to do with the safety of existing NPPs. The ACRS, with this huge review workload, has little time to request a review of safety issues it feels are important. In fact Mr. Moderator how many of the reviews conducted by the ACRS (or its many subcommittees) are reviews of issues or topics it specifically, and on its own initiative, demands be reviewed? Right now the Committee reviews everything sent to it by the Commission with absolutely no apparent regard for any safety prioritization. The ACRS is being asked to do a good job despite being asked “to take a drink from a fire hose”.
    The focus needs to be considerably sharpened if the NRC and the ACRS really support putting public health and safety first!

  20. The ACRS members’ biographies (http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/advisory/acrs/membership.html) demonstrate how the committee combines real-world experience in operating reactors with in-depth academic and research insights in many areas of science. The website’s 15 years of ACRS letter reports (http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/acrs/letters/) cover all the advice the committee has offered during that time to the technical staff and the Commission.

    Ed Hackett

  21. I know I have been hard on ACRS members & NRC Commissioners, but I truly believe they are technocrats and are really like Sheldon on the popular nerdy TV show. They are terribly bright with facts, figures, and formulas, but fall short of really understanding human behavior. They are missing a key ingredient. Guess which one it is as I quote a kid who slightly altered his line in a church play regarding the gifts the 3 wise men brought to baby Jesus. He said, “We bring you gifts of gold, common sense, and fur.”

  22. It has been said that having all the right answers remains insufficient until all the right questions are asked.
    Does the ACRS even have the expertise to ask all the right questions?
    I am not impressed with what you have mentioned, Mr. Moderator, of the “accomplishments” of the ACRS over the 60-year span of their existence. It looks like the ACRS is only a technical advisory committee at best. Humans operate and maintain our nation’s nuclear power plants (NPPs). What experience do these multi-degreed nerds know about the human element involved in the operation of these plants? How many have even worked in a nuclear power plant? How many have supervised or managed NPP professionals? How many ACRS folks have actually been operators, technicians, or maintenance personnel at these plants? Inadequate training of operators was the root cause of the accident at the Three Mile Island (TMI) NPP. This root cause at TMI had nothing to do with a line of computer code or an improper theory, the stuff that the ACRS prides itself in when advising the NRC. The accident at Chernobyl involved human error. The fact is that the ACRS is simply not equipped to address the most important aspect of these plants, the human factor. We desperately need some down to earth experienced professionals on the ACRS. We need to have people that know how to ask all the right questions on the ACRS. (And it would not hurt to have these types as NRC Commissioners either).

  23. Has the ACRS taken a firm, specific position on anything?

    You know even scum ISIS terrorists have specifically and clearly expressed their positions as a terrorist organization.
    Has the ACRS ever taken a firm position on anything?
    Many organizations have position papers on many issues they believe in. Does the ACRS have position or policy papers? If they do would you, Mr. Moderator, provide links to the relevant documents? I would be particularly interested in ACRS position papers on the following…
     The safe, permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste
     The adequacy of earthquake protection for nuclear power plants (NPP).
     The adequacy of NPP security programs
     The adequacy of flood protection measures at NPPs subject to catastrophic upstream dam failure (there are unfortunately many NPPs that are threatened in such a manner)
     The adequacy of measures taken to protect plants from cyber attack
     The safety of those folks who are located near NPPs, especially in the case of NPPs located close to large metropolitan areas.

    Appreciate any and all info you can provide on the above Mr. Moderator.
    I hope the ACRS believes in “God, Motherhood, and Apple Pie” but what I am asking for is something much more specific.

  24. What has the ACRS advised relative to continuing the operation of nuclear power plants located in the backyard of large population centers? In real estate what typically governs is location, location, location. When considering a nuclear power plant, location should be very important also. At what point are there just too many people living too close to a nuclear power plant for it’s continued operation to be considered safe for those folks? The NRC says never. The NRC is seriously considering renewing the licenses of three old nuclear units located just 35 miles from downtown Manhattan and millions of people. Has the ACRS even weighed in on this critical public safety issue? Or has the ACRS even interrogated the NRC about whether or not these Indian Point units should have their licenses extended? The population around nuke plants has grown significantly since most plants have been built. There is no doubt in my mind that even a new nuclear plant, with all the latest in nuclear safety bells and whistles, would never be located anywhere near large population centers. At what point should public safety come first?

  25. My Mom used to say that some folks are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. I think ACRS members are so technically minded that they are no earthly good either. These ACRS cats have never been in the trenches in the real nuclear world. The only ones more unqualified than your typical ACRS member are the political hacks that are appointed to be NRC Commissioners by US Presidents. I really believe it must be very frustrating for qualified NRC staffers to have to put up with this type of “leadership” whether it be on the NRC Commission or on the ACRS. Tell me Mr. Moderator how many ACRS members over this 60-year period have actually held NRC senior reactor operator licenses? How many have actually had their boots on the ground working as employees of any NRC licensee? No, ACRS members have lots of degrees as engineers and scientists, but they, for the most part, are theorists with little to no real world experience. No wonder the best advice they give is wrapped up technical minutia.
    No wonder they do not address the real gut issues facing the nuclear industry.

  26. Thanks for providing feedback on some good things the ACRS has done, but they seem like real small potatoes compared to the issues brought up by Joy and Jan. Where the hell has the ACRS been for over a half-century on demanding that a safe permanent repository be built for spent, yet highly radioactive, fuel?! In spite of study after study showing that the threat to nuclear power plants from earthquakes is much greater than originally thought, what advice has the ACRS given the NRC about that threat?! Where has the ACRS been with regard to the ineffective NRC baseline inspection program? Time after time, AFTER a nuclear power plant has had serious operational problems has the NRC gone in and taken a serious hard look at the plant AND low and behold they find a huge number of problems, the majority of which the NRC had no clue existed before the plant got in trouble. Why should nuclear plant licensees pay millions of dollars each for totally ineffective NRC inspections? Where is the ACRS relative to the terrible track record of nuclear plant mishaps in the US?! US nuke plants have had two-thirds of all the nuclear plant mishaps in the world since Chernobyl. Why have UK nuclear plants vastly out-performed US nuclear power plants? Some of the answers may lie in the fact that large powerful nuclear utilities have bought out the NRC. The NRC cannot and will not really bite the hand that feeds it. The NRC will not put itself out of business; they will feed off the industry like a parasite but will do nothing to ever harm the host. The NRC, like the Ferguson police department, might as well throw away their meaningless motto of “protect and serve the public”.

  27. Here are a few example of areas where the Committee has made significant contributions:

    Establishment of a set of the general design criteria, the forerunner to today’s Appendix A to 10 CFR 50;

    Emergency Core Cooling Systems capability – ACRS called for greater emphasis on prevention of LOCA’s through improved quality in design fabrication and implementation of ECCS systems;

    Expansion of the reactor safety research program in areas such as thermal-hydraulics, reactor vessel embrittlement and pressurized thermal shock (PTS). Their reviews of the research program continue to this day with a comprehensive biennial review;

    Risk-informing the regulatory framework from early considerations of severe accident phenomena, to PTS, to the PRA policy statement to current day framework and examples (RG 1.174, PMRF, risk-informed fire protection);

    Development of the quantitative safety goals.

    Ed Hackett

  28. In all those 60 years what were the ACRS’s most significant specific contributions to nuclear safety? Can you at least name a handful?

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