NRC Actions Stack up Well Against International Reviews

William Orders
Senior Project Manager
Japan Lessons Learned Division

Ever since the March 2011 nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, regulators around the world have asked “what have we learned?” The Fukushima accident led the nuclear power industry worldwide to reconsider how we approached nuclear safety in the case of extreme natural events. Regulators and the nuclear industry have put a high priority on addressing the accident’s lessons and implementing safety enhancements.

Last year, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, issued a report that took another look at the accident and detailed what was learned. The NRC has reviewed the report to see if it might lead us to additional actions here in the United States.

At this point, we see that either the NRC, the U.S. government, or the nuclear industry are already addressing the IAEA report’s lessons. U.S. actions on these lessons are consistent with the international community’s approach to the issues. A more detailed comparison of the report’s recommendations with relevant U.S. actions is available here.

JLD vertical CReviews of the accident have focused on the effects of earthquakes and floods, as well as positioning plants to deal safely with a complete loss of off-site and back-up power. Nuclear power plants worldwide are addressing these issues with steps that include:

  • re-examining external hazards,
  • improving electrical systems,
  • adding ways to cool the fuel in the reactor core,
  • protecting the reactor containment,
  • adding ways to cool the  spent fuel in storage pools, and
  • developing capabilities to quickly provide equipment and assistance from on-site or off-site emergency preparedness facilities.

The NRC and our international counterparts have compared our post-Fukushima approaches before. In 2014, an IAEA team report looked at several of the lessons the NRC has learned from the accident. The report, after examining our efforts at that time, concluded the NRC has “acted promptly and effectively.” The team also said the NRC’s inspections on Fukushima-related issues were “exemplary.”

As the NRC continues reviewing the IAEA 2015 report in detail, we are heartened that our international counterparts are all addressing the same concerns. Our collective actions are enhancing safety worldwide.

More information on the NRC’s response to the Fukushima accident can be found on NRC’s Japan Lessons Learned website. A description of the accident is available here.

NRC Librarian Not Yet Closing the Book on his Lengthy Career

Anna McGowan
Branch Chief
Office of the Chief Information Officer

Paul Gallien
Paul Gallien has spent much of his 50-year federal career in this library.

It’s not often that we focus on an individual NRC staffer in a blog post. But we thought it appropriate to recognize Paul Gallien, who recently celebrated 50 years in federal service.

Paul has worked as a librarian within the federal government longer than the NRC has been in existence. If there were a book on him, you might find it catalogued under “C” for continuity.

Fresh from Gallaudet University with a degree in Library Science in 1965, Paul started his federal career at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration library. After 22 years there, Paul joined the NRC’s Technical Library, a valuable resource for NRC staff in which scientific and technical information is managed and preserved.

Thanks to Paul and his colleagues in the Technical Library, NRC staff have a readily available and easily accessible collection of information that aids them in carrying out our agency’s regulatory and research responsibilities. Paul’s many years of experience are vital to the technical library as it prepares to transition to its fourth generation online catalog system.

Deaf from the age of three, Paul’s contributions are only made more special by his offer of friendship and mentoring to his colleagues, deaf and hearing alike. He is always willing to share his experience with newer colleagues. And as a long-time volunteer with the deaf-blind community, he serves as a tactile interpreter and provides transportation assistance.

Paul may owe his longevity at least partly to his commitment to health and fitness. He “hikes” weekly up and down the 18 flights in the NRC’s headquarters building. With no plans for retirement and a proclamation to continue working for another 25 years, maybe we’ll see him on the stairs and in the Technical Library for years to come.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate Paul’s 50 years of federal service is to simply say, “thank you for your continued dedication and professionalism over these many years.”