U.S. NRC Blog

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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.

9 responses to “NRC Actions Stack up Well Against International Reviews

  1. drbillcorcoran March 2, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Scientific American says that Fukushima costs are at $100 billion. What does this include?

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-years-later-the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-site-continues-to-spill-waste/

    What does NRC think the costs are?

    • Moderator March 3, 2016 at 11:31 am

      The NRC has not researched the cost of the Fukushima accident. Our focus has been incorporating lessons learned from the accident to ensure that U.S. plants continue to operate safely.

      Scott Burnell

  2. drbillcorcoran March 2, 2016 at 9:13 am

    The Fukushima Investigation is Far From Over

    We still do not have a chronological list of the missed opportunities and the harmfully dysfunctional conditions, behaviors, actions, and inactions together with their impacts on the harmful results.

    What individuals and organizations advised TEPCO to address the safety shortcomings that resulted in the explosions and meltdowns?

    There is a group compiling the unanswered questions.

    You may join by sending an email to
    rcsotp_20_fukushima_ltbl_-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

  3. CaptD February 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Everybody and especially the IAEA are now patting each other on the back having tried to successfully side step the damage to their industry caused by Fukushima.

    I’d like to add that the NRC still fails to take into consideration the proven fact that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7 just like it did at Fukushima and no engineering design work or NRC specifications can prevent that from happening.

    Fukushima proved that even though the probability of a meltdown was a 1 in 10,000 year or even a 1 in a 100,000 year event, not 1 but 3 meltdowns could occur almost on the same day! Probability dictates that an event is just as likely to happen today as it is sometime in the future, yet the NRC tends to always imply that if something does happen it will be far into the distant future, which is illogical at best and simply dangerous in the worst case. Using scientific to somehow imply that something is safe when it is not is the worst thing those with scientific knowledge can do, because it make scientists look like “snake oil salesmen”.

    The USA cannot afford a nuclear accident for any reason and therefore it is up to the NRC to review each nuclear power plant operator and determine what changes need to be made, in order to insure Zero Tolerance when it come to compliance with all safety regulations , because even then Nature can strike at any time…

    If you don’t learn from your mistakes then you will continue to make them. Imagine if the next meltdown occurs and it happens in France, where all of Europe is downwind, will the nuclear industry still continue to look the other way, while counting all the ways it will never happen again.

    The world is now watching while the Japanese Government (which owns TEPCO) eliminate free speech in an attempt to silence those speaking out about Fukushima, since the Nuclear Utility “Gangs” are the ones that actually run the country. They will continue to make billions every year on the “cleanup” for generations, while actually enabling as much of the ☢ waste as they can to enter the Pacific Ocean, so they do not have to pay to process it.

    Instead of allowing all the waste to enter the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima, at the very least the Japanese should be shipping all the radioactive “cooling” water via super tanker to be evenly distributed through the worlds oceans. I am against all Ocean Pollution but spreading it evenly would be far less damaging then to kill one portion of the Pacific Ocean.

    It is past time that the UN get involved, and if they will not for any reason, then the next step is to boycott all Japanese Goods until it makes financial sense for the Japanese do what is best for mankind instead of these Nuclear Utility “Gangs”.

    BTW: The Fuky Effect: The on-again, off-again fissioning of the ☢ corium(s), as they interact with water below Fukushima will continue to be problematic for decades if not generations. Northern Japan has been damaged by Fukushima, yet the Japanese continue to push nuclear because it is good business.

  4. Helen February 25, 2016 at 11:25 am

    It amazes me that people like Ms. Azarovitz question that the people who work for the NRC are interested in anything other than ensuring everyone’s safety. What possible benefit could the NRC have for a “pass” on safety? They all have families. They work at the nuclear plants. Do you really think that they would let anything slip that might risk their own and their own families’ safety? Do you really think they want an accident that would make them all look bad? It’s stunning to me when people are critical of a system that they have no personal knowledge about. Before you criticize, best to do your homework. The NRC is the toughest nuclear regulator in the world! No other country has such tough restrictions. You should be grateful. There has never been a fatal nuclear accident in the entire history of nuclear power in the US. And you are skeptical?

    • Janet A February 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      Skeptical? Yes. Knowledgeable? Yes. No, I don’t believe any decent individual would out their famity in harms way but I do believe that have too much faith in the infallibility of nuclear reactors. They’re willing to do what they do believing an accident will not happen…….an accident that is waiting to happen……example, the energy corporations’s three reactors at the bottom of the list of poorly run plants.

    • drbillcorcoran February 26, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      Some fatalities at US commercial nuclear plants
      ANO
      Surry
      Calvert Cliffs
      Crystal River
      Comanche Peak ?
      Others?

      • Moderator February 29, 2016 at 11:34 am

        Deaths that have occurred at U.S. commercial nuclear power plants have been due to a variety of workplace accidents and workers’ personal health issues. There have been no worker deaths attributed to radiological accidents.

        Tom Wellock

  5. Janet Azarovitz February 25, 2016 at 10:04 am

    What a bunch of drivel. The PR staff of the NRC has been working overtime, I’m sure. Citizens have no faith in the NRC because it is right alongside, hand in hand with the nuclear industry. The NRC has not made us safer by giving the industry and the powerfully rich corporations, time after time, either a pass on their woeful “safety” improvements or they change the rules. I don’t know how the Commissioners can sleep at night…….maybe they dream of the money they will pocket when they are later employed by the industry……some going back to the industry jobs they held before being appointed to the NRC.

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