Skip to main content

The Plants in (and Around) Iowa

Duane-Arnold2 While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gears up to take a close look at U.S. nuclear plants, it makes sense that newspapers play watchdog and pore over the records of plants in their vicinity. That’s what the Chicago Tribune and the Des Moines Register have done with plants in and near Iowa:

The newspaper, which reviewed Nuclear Regulatory Commission records, reported that Nebraska's Fort Calhoun Station is one of three plants in the United States facing the highest level of regulatory scrutiny. That's because the plant's safety systems were found last year to be in danger of flooding, according to records.

Inspectors found the plant didn't have enough sand to fill bags that operators planned to place on a flood wall to protect buildings and equipment.

And:

There's an adequate stockpile of sand in place now, but the plant will continue to be inspected frequently because the violation was consider a "substantial" safety risk.

The other plants in or near Iowa were cited for less serious problems, records show.

That’s Nebraska – how about Iowa’s sole plant, Duane Arnold?

In the past five years, the Iowa plant received notification of four violations that occurred between 2003 and 2009, said Renee Nelson, spokeswoman for NextEra Energy Resources, which owns 70 percent of the plant.

No fines were issued. The violations involved a diesel generator problem, a deficiency in drills and planning, failure to complete a checklist before moving fuel bundles and failing to properly notify health personnel.

The plant fixed those things, so:

The NRC determined that the plant "operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety and met all cornerstone objectives," according to the agency's latest assessment released March 4.

I can’t say every plant will do as well as those around Iowa, but it is striking to see the concern for safety, the NRC’s determination to niggle out every little flaw, and the plants’ quick response to their reports. Well, striking if you expected any other outcome, that is.

These should be interesting journalistic exercises – let’s keep an eye out for more.

Duane Arnold Energy Center.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Knowing What You’ve Got Before It’s Gone in Nuclear Energy

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest source of carbon prevention in the United States, but this is a rough time to be in the business of selling electricity due to cheap natural gas and a flood of subsidized renewable energy. Some nuclear plants have closed prematurely, and others likely will follow.
In recent weeks, Exelon and the Omaha Public Power District said that they might close the Clinton, Quad Cities and Fort Calhoun nuclear reactors. As Joni Mitchell’s famous song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
More than 100 energy and policy experts will gather in a U.S. Senate meeting room on May 19 to talk about how to improve the viability of existing nuclear plants. The event will be webcast, and a link will be available here.
Unlike other energy sources, nuclear power plants get no specia…

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…