|Some facts UCS left out.|
If you were concerned with the safety of America's nuclear energy facilities, I could understand why this blog post from Matt Wald at NY Times Green might cause you a bit of pause. In it, David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists makes the claim that industry and the NRC ignored the possibility of a Fukushima-like incident in the U.S. for decades. His proof: a document published by an NRC analyst in 2007 that posited how a flood, earthquake or other extreme event could cause a loss of AC power at a nuclear energy facility that could lead to multiple reactor meltdowns.
Sounds scary, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the folks at UCS left out a couple of facts when they talked to Wald that might have spoiled that narrative. The fact is, NRC and the industry have been working on the issue for decades. Here's NEI's Steve Kerekes, who left the following in the comment string after the post:
The article fails to cite a number of relevant facts, including these: 1) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission finalized the Station Blackout Rule to provide further assurance that a loss of emergency AC power systems would not adversely affect public health and safety in 1988. That’s a full two decades before the creation of the documents in question. 2) Over the course of the more than 3,500 years of combined reactor operations in the United States, the one and only station blackout in our facilities’ history lasted 37 minutes. That too was decades ago.Click here to take a look at the station blackout rule that Kerkes refers to in the text. If you scroll down to the end of the document, you'll see the date June 21, 1988 spelled out in black and white.
Notwithstanding those facts, the U.S. nuclear energy industry – demonstrating its commitment to safe and reliable operations – has made safety improvements on a continuing basis to provide additional layers of defense in depth. These include post-9/11 measures put in place to better equip facilities to respond to explosions and large fires, and the post-Fukushima enhancements (centered on acquisition of portable safety equipment) currently being implemented to improve facilities’ ability to respond safely and effectively to extreme events, regardless of their cause.