Skip to main content

Quick Hits – The NRC, NYT and NRC Again

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has posted an extremely useful FAQ about the Japan earthquake. The very first question answers a big one:

1) Can an earthquake and tsunami as large as happened in Japan also happen here?

This earthquake occurred on a “subduction zone”, which is the type of tectonic region that produces earthquakes of the largest magnitude. A subduction zone is a tectonic plate boundary where one tectonic plate is pushed under another plate. Subduction zone earthquakes are also required to produce the kind of massive tsunami seen in Japan. In the continental US, the only subduction zone is the Cascadia subduction zone which lies off the coast of northern California, Oregon and Washington. So, a continental earthquake and tsunami as large as in Japan could only happen there.

It goes on to note that only one nuclear power plant is in this area, the Columbia Generating Station in Washington, and it’s 255 miles from the coast (thus even further from the zone). That means the potent one-two punch suffered by Fukushima Daiichi cannot happen to a nuclear plant in the United States. That doesn’t absolve the industry from taking the lessons from this event, but it is mightily reassuring still.

And that’s just question 1. By all means, read the rest.


The New York Times has put up an interactive 3-D graphic showing how fuel is stored at boiling water reactors such as Fukushima Daiichi. Interesting presentation and a good explanation of why keeping the used fuel pools filled with water is so important.


The NRC is having a meeting. And you’re invited.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be briefed by its staff on the NRC’s response to the ongoing nuclear event in Japan in a public meeting on March 21 at 9 a.m. at NRC Headquarters, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. The commission meeting will be open to public observation and will be webcast at:

This is what they’d call on Broadway a hard ticket, as you’d imagine, so the best bet, even if you live in the area, is to watch the hearing on the web or on C-Span, which will carry it.  It doesn’t look like there will be a q-and-a session, but it should be quite interesting.


Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.

Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …