Public Affairs Director
Four years ago, just six weeks before the nuclear accident at Fukushima, the NRC initiated this blog. As we said at the time: the blog is intended to serve as a vehicle for informing, explaining and clarifying the actions, roles and responsibilities of the NRC, raising awareness about our agency and its mission, and – most importantly – giving us another opportunity to hear from you.
We believe the blog has served that purpose well. In the past four years, we have published some 540 posts on a wide variety of subjects from tiny jelly fish affecting a nuclear power plant to updates on Hurricane Sandy and posts on nuclear history (some of our most popular posts). Posts have been written by staff throughout the agency and the regions, including the Chairman and Executive Director for Operations, as well as technical staff and public affairs officers. We have strived to model plain language in our blog posts – contrary, perhaps, to some of our official communications – so that these subjects are more readily understood by the public, for whom the blog is intended.
We have also found the blog to be a lively source of comments. Some 4,800 comments have been approved and posted in the past four years. A quick review of the comments reflects how liberally the NRC applies its blog comment guidelines. At times, though, comments may contain personal attacks, “four-letter-words,” or other violations of our comment policy. When that occurs, we remove that verbiage (and note that) and then post the comment. We also may occasionally move some comments to our Open Forum section if they’ve strayed too far from the original post. Very few of the submitted comments are not posted (with the exception of duplicates).
Over the past four years or so, there have been more than 650,000 views to NRC blog. We’re happy the information is reaching an audience. If you have suggestions for topics for future blog posts, please let us know in the comments below.
I should note that the blog is the oldest but not the only social media platform the NRC uses. We also use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and the photo gallery platform Flickr as well.
Public Affairs Officer
The NRC’s technical staff, industry executives and a public interest group will brief the Commissioners Thursday on the agency’s efforts to implement what we’ve learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident. The bottom line is the NRC is ahead of schedule on several fronts.
Some of the best news involves U.S. reactors meeting requirements from two of the NRC’s Fukushima-related Orders issued in March 2012. By the end of this spring, almost a quarter of the U.S. fleet will comply with the Mitigation Strategies and Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation Orders. We expect more than half the fleet will meet those Orders by the end of December, which is a full year before the Orders’ deadline.
Every U.S. reactor will comply with the instrumentation requirements by the December 2016 deadline. Every reactor will also comply by that time with a major Mitigation Strategies requirement – additional, well-protected onsite portable equipment to support key safety measures if an extreme event disables a plant’s installed systems. The U.S. industry has already set up two response centers with even more equipment that can be transported to any U.S. reactor within 24 hours. By the time we say good-bye to 2016, almost every reactor will also have made all modifications needed to use those portable systems. In preparing to meet the deadlines, U.S. reactors have already enhanced their ability to keep the public safe.
About a dozen plants will have made all those modifications except changes closely related to the third Order, which requires Hardened Vents for reactors with designs similar to those at Fukushima. These vents would safely relieve pressure in an emergency and help other systems pump cooling water into the core. All the reactors subject to the Order have completed plans for the first set of vent enhancements or installation of new vents.
The NRC staff finished reviewing these plans earlier this month, ahead of schedule, and issued written evaluations to each plant. The agency is also about ready to issue guidance on how these plants can meet the second part of the Order, which involves an additional vent or other methods to protect the structure surrounding the reactor.
The staff’s presentation will also cover topics including revising the NRC’s rules in these areas, as well as the ongoing effort to re-evaluate flooding hazards for all U.S. nuclear power plants. The NRC’s regional offices will provide their perspective on the overall implementation effort’s progress.