Five Questions with Rick Hasselberg

Rick Hasselberg is a Senior Emergency Response Coordinator with the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response.

  1. How would you briefly describe your role at the NRC?

5 questions_9with boxI manage the NRC’s Reactor Safety Team. If an emergency occurs at a nuclear power plant, my team is responsible for assessing nuclear facility conditions, predicting future conditions, and recommending actions the NRC might take to help protect public health and safety. I am responsible for recruiting, training, and continuously challenging the expertise and response readiness of one of the most respected emergency response organizations in the world.  What could be better than that?

  1. What is your foremost responsibility at work?

I think about emergencies. While 99 percent of the people working at the NRC are working hard to ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place, I work under the assumption that any of those safety measures could possible fail and that it’s time to get busy.  (The more I think about the things that might happen, the less surprised I will be if they do.

  1. What is your most significant challenge in the workplace?

rickh_fixedI struggle with competing demand for the agency’s best and brightest employees.  I must ensure that NRC will able to maintain a pool of experienced, qualified response team members who can be pulled away from their regular duties to train, exercise and, if ever needed, to respond to an actual emergency event.

  1. What do you consider one of your most notable accomplishments at the NRC?

I joined the NRC in late 1979, in the months following the Three Mile Island Accident. During that period, the NRC was under considerable pressure to improve both its internal training programs and its external public information (outreach) programs. I contributed significantly to both programs, introducing multimedia production techniques (film, video, and 35mm slides) for improving internal technical training, and I created and presented a highly acclaimed, day-long Nuclear Power and Radiation seminar that NRC presented to news media representatives throughout the United States. I was credited with helping to re-establish NRC credibility with the news media.

  1. What is one quality of the NRC that more people should know?

This agency has a lot of very smart, very talented people who really care about their role in serving the nation. I’m very proud to serve with them.

Five Questions is an occasional series in which we pose the same questions to different NRC staff members.

 

 

TMI – March 28, 1979

tmiThe Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. It was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history. Its aftermath brought about sweeping changes involving emergency response planning, reactor operator training, human factors engineering, radiation protection, and many other areas of nuclear power plant operations.

All of these changes significantly enhanced U.S. reactor safety. The full story is available here.

Throw Back Thursday — Name the Commissioner

tbtThis photo of a briefing of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was taken on April 4, 1979, following the Three Mile Island accident. It was a challenging time for the NRC. Can you identify the individual facing the camera?

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant – An Update on the 35th Anniversary

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I
 
The Three Mile Island Unit 2 Control Room bustles during the crisis in 1979. For more historical information, click on the photo to go to the NRC YouTube video about the accident.
The Three Mile Island Unit 2 Control Room bustles during the crisis in 1979. For more historical information, click on the photo to go to the NRC YouTube video about the accident.

Today marks 35 years since the accident at the Three Mile Island 2 nuclear power plant. As is the case every year, it represents another opportunity to reflect on the most significant nuclear power plant accident to ever occur in the U.S.

Perhaps less well known to the average citizen is where things stand in terms of the Middletown, Pa., site all these years later.

GPU Nuclear, which owned the plant at the time of the accident, removed the damaged fuel from the reactor and decontaminated the plant in ensuing years. Once the plant was placed in a safe, stable condition, it transitioned to what is known as “post-defueled monitored storage” — a change that was formally approved by the NRC in 1993.

Last year, the current owner, FirstEnergy, submitted a roadmap to the agency on its plans for eventual dismantling the plant. Those details were contained in a document called a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report, or PSDAR.

In short, the plant will remain in storage until its neighboring reactor, Three Mile Island 1, permanently ceases operations, something currently expected to happen in 2034. Once that happens, decommissioning work on both units will be undertaken, but those efforts are projected to take many years.

NRC regulations allow up to 60 years for the completion of decommissioning activities for U.S. nuclear power plants.

A view of the TMI-2 control room, last year, with two NRC inspectors.
A view of the TMI-2 control room, last year, with two NRC inspectors.

Meanwhile, the NRC will continue to inspect TMI-2 at regular intervals. The focus of those reviews includes maintenance of the structures, management oversight, fire protection and plant support activities. The results of those inspections can be found in the NRC’s electronic documents system.

While another anniversary has arrived for TMI, the work on keeping close watch on the plant goes on, and will continue for many years to come.

Lights, Camera, Action — NRC Raised the YouTube Bar in 2013

Ivonne L. Couret
Public Affairs Officer
 

We had a very productive year on our YouTube Channel in 2013. We posted more than 30 videos, including 15 produced in-CoverPHoto Video copyhouse with original content. The latest is a recap of some of the highlights and accomplishments of 2014.

Other “original content” videos included four that spotlighted high-interest topics; six that included agency staff answering questions about NRC activities; two that reflected on historical events and two kid-friendly videos including our first cartoon.

youtube2That cartoon, A Day in the Life of an NRC Resident Inspector, made it to our No. 3 spot for all-time video views – quite a feat considering it was just posted in October. Another popular video was our historian’s recount of the Three Mile Island Accident.

Other videos include small segments of important Commission meetings, with links to the full video archive.

We saw a 38 percent increase in our YouTube subscribers and growing interest in the platform. Almost half of our total YouTube views occurred in 2013 even though we debuted the platform back in 2011. Our numbers keep growing and the public continues to watch us.

What’s next? Being mindful of the reduction of resources and budget, there will be a bit fewer videos produced in 2014. But we will be focusing our efforts on the higher interest topics.

Currently in pre-production are two videos we think you’ll find worth watching. One is a conversation about the decommissioning process since five nuclear power plants have announced they are shutting down. And we will be taking a historical look on how the NRC began.

Also, next year we will be featuring more motion graphic videos that will provide quick, lively presentations of NRC information, activities and programs.

What video topics would you like to see? Let us know through your blog comments or email us at opa.resource@nrc.gov .

NRC Posts Newly Digitized Historical Images on Flickr

Ivonne Couret
Public Affairs Officer
 

Are you interested in what President Jimmy Carter looked like when he toured Three Mile Island in the spring of 1979? Or see the jimmycarterchange in fashion styles of NRC engineers over the past decades?

These photos and more than 50 other newly digitized historical images have been added to the NRC’s Flickr Photostream. They are in a set called Historical Moments and coincide with the release of our new YouTube video – Moments in NRC History: Three Mile Island.

We will continue to add more historical images on a regular basis. These photos are open domain and may be used for all non-commercial purposes (although we do like a photo credit). You do not need a Flickr account to view or download the images.

To learn more about NRC photos on Flickr read our previous NRC blog post.