Skip to main content

NRC’s 90 Day Report from the Fukushima Task Force

image Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission published its Fukushima task force’s Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century (pdf). This is a significant report because it sets the stage for what’s to come over the next few years to enhance nuclear safety. Here are a few nuggets from our press release on the report:

The task force report confirms the safety of U.S. nuclear energy facilities and recommends actions to enhance U.S. nuclear plant readiness to safely manage severe events.

The task force report does not cite significant data from the Fukushima accident to support many of its recommendations. Given the mammoth challenge it faced in gathering and evaluating the still-incomplete information from Japan, the agency should seek broader engagement with stakeholders on the task force report to ensure that its decisions are informed by the best information possible.

The industry reiterates our commitment to make nuclear plant safety our top priority. Even as the NRC and industry separately have taken steps to identify additional layers of protection to enhance nuclear plant safety, the NRC and many of our nation’s leaders have recognized that U.S. reactors are safe.

Besides what NEI has to say, here are a few nuggets from the NRC report to mention:

The current regulatory approach, and more importantly, the resultant plant capabilities allow the Task Force to conclude that a sequence of events like the Fukushima accident is unlikely to occur in the United States and some appropriate mitigation measures have been implemented, reducing the likelihood of core damage and radiological releases. Therefore, continued operation and continued licensing activities do not pose an imminent risk to public health and safety. p. vii

The primary responsibility for safety rests with the licensees, and the NRC holds licensees accountable for meeting regulatory requirements. p. 19

This [proposed] framework, by itself, would not create requirements nor eliminate any current requirements. It would provide a more coherent structure within the regulations to facilitate Commission decisions relating to what issues should be subject to NRC requirements and what those requirements ought to be. p. 21

As discussed earlier, the Task Force believes the voluntary industry initiatives could play a useful and valuable role in the suggested framework. p. 21

In a new regulatory framework, risk assessment and defense-in-depth would be combined more formally. p. 21

And here’s a valuable nugget on new plant designs:

By nature of their passive designs and inherent 72-hour coping capability for core, containment, and spent fuel pool cooling with no operator action required, the ESBWR and AP1000 designs have many of the design features and attributes necessary to address the Task Force recommendations. The Task Force supports completing those design certification rulemaking activities without delay. p. 71

Good to hear. For more on the industry’s perspective, see our Chief Nuclear Officer, Tony Pietrangelo, in an interview with Reuters Insider.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

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 …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…