U.S. NRC Blog

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Plenty of Progress to Report on Fukushima-related Enhancements

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

fukushimaThe 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.

7 responses to “Plenty of Progress to Report on Fukushima-related Enhancements

  1. CURTIS A ROBINSON April 29, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    You all are doing a great job (NRC) is doing what it supposed to do it’s working just as it should .
    Thank You ,
    All that make this possible

  2. Bonds 25 April 29, 2015 at 7:20 am

    That “unforgiving and dangerous method of producing electricity” happens to be the SAFEST. This is fact. Fukushima and TMI didn’t cause one fatality from an overexposure and major health organizations believe local increases in cancer rates will be insignificant if at all. Being a logical Nuclear Health Physics Tech, I 100% agree. The plant I work at has spent 70 MILLION alone on Fukushima upgrades…..a plant that is 3 1/2 hours from the ocean. Hardly doing nothing regarding “prevention” of a Fukushima-type accident. The ONLY reason Fukushima happened is because of an EPIC tsunami…..one that was much larger than any model predicted and one that killed 20,000 people. Put down the Anti-Nuke Kool Aid and embrace the safest, cleanest and most efficient method for producing massive amounts of base load power.

    • Half-TruthSlayer April 29, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Dear Bonds,
      I dutifully drank the pro-nuke Kool-Aid for over 30 years as an SRO at a nuke plant. Then I decided to think for myself! Let’s discount and forget about the over 1,000 Japanese, mainly seniors and physically-challenged folks, who have died there just as a result of being evacuated with no hope of ever returning to their homes due to radioactive contamination. Did you not know that besides radiation, Mr. HP, stress kills as well?! How many millions of folks have been traumatized by accidents and near-misses at nuke plants? Why should we live in fear of nuclear plants when there are, contrary to what you have said, much safer alternatives? We need to break unhealthy “Bonds”!

      • CaptD May 2, 2015 at 2:09 pm

        Salute for stepping up and speaking out.

        Fukushima proved that the concept of Nuclear Safety is FALSE since Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7 and that does not even begin to include problems caused by Mankind!

  3. Nikohl Vandel April 28, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Excellent. Especially the Disaster Response Centers … not that i don’t wonder how effective any real response other than, “guess we got to let it go until we can get near it,” is the actual first response, having a disaster center where training those who specialize in nuclear disasters is an minimal, yet expensive, step i hope Industry is exclusively subsidizing and supporting.

    As for shutting down reactors and removing nuclear material from earthquake/flood zones …. Well, THAT could have been our GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSIBLE first response to Fukushima. #stillwaiting for actual basic sanity to kick in here!

    Just saying.

    Really, NRC, given the irresponsible nature and habits of this industry thus far in nuclear development, we can push industry standards way more, and must do so if this industry is going to survive such pitiful operating standards they are accustom to maintaining.

    Irresponsible companies don’t need to be messing with nuclear reactors, and Tepco and PG&E, et al., have demonstrated a severe lack of safety competence and even some criminally self-serving justifications in their participation in this industry.

  4. Half-TruthSlayer April 28, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Strike Three-the Public is Out!
    Just like a 100 mph fast ball, the NRC and the nuclear industry have smoked another major issue right past the public. And now they brag about it! According to this stilted account we can all sit back and relax; a Fukushima-type disaster can never happen in this country. The NRC and the nuclear industry have come up with, and partially implemented, “mitigation” strategies. What?! Not “prevention” strategies but only “mitigation” strategies?!
    Thankfully, a Three Mile Island-type accident has not happened again in this country. And that is so because we accepted only “mitigation” strategies after that accident in 1979?! No, it is because we figured out many ways to “prevent” another TMI accident.
    Recall how after the terrible Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine in 1986 our nuclear industry said such an accident could not happen here. I still believe they made the right call then, as that Soviet-designed reactor was inherently unsafe and had no robust containment structure around it to help prevent the release of radioactivity.
    The Fukushima reactors in Japan are carbon copies of many of the reactors operating here. Instead of doing the right thing, nothing regarding “prevention” of a Fukushima-type accident here is even being considered. This simply defies logic in my opinion. This proves to me that the NRC has caved to the nuclear industry.
    This is like a defendant being found guilty of a capital crime and being released. No one has had the audacity to lie and say that a Fukushima-type accident cannot occur here in the US. In fact they have admitted that it can happen here. The only sentence for pleading “no contest” is that WHEN an accident occurs here we expect you to do a better job of “mitigating” its consequences.
    It would be akin to having the EPA say that WHEN you have a devastating oil spill, you only have to have suitable cleanup equipment available. Although I have had heartburn with some of the overreach and overkill of the EPA, they always seem to “error” on the side of protecting the public.
    The EPA, however, does not have the handicap the NRC has. The EPA will not enforce its way out of existence. In doing the right thing, however, the NRC may harm the very host that sustains them.
    I have lost hope in the NRC. As they are configured they will never, ever be able to put public safety ahead of preserving the viability of an unforgiving and dangerous method of producing electricity.

    • CaptD May 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Half-TruthSlayer I’ll look forward to every comment you make!

      Both the NRC and the EPA are being muzzled by Congress since the majority of Congress are now caving into Industry demands for ever less oversight in order to protect their large donors.

      As many of us know, removing regulations, will only make the next accident occur sooner!

      Here is a great example: GOP guts EPA http://www.huff.to/1cHHQcj

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