Posts Tagged ‘nuclear regulatory commission’

US Nuclear Industry Plans “Rescue Wagon” To Avert Meltdowns

December 10th, 2012 12:13 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens writes writes “AP reports that if disaster strikes a US nuclear power plant, the utility industry wants the ability to fly in heavy-duty equipment from regional hubs to stricken reactors to avert a meltdown providing another layer of defense in case a Fukushima-style disaster destroys a nuclear plant’s multiple backup systems. ‘It became very clear in Japan that utilities became quickly overwhelmed,’ says Joe Pollock, vice president for nuclear operations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group that is spearheading the effort. US nuclear plants already have backup safety systems and are supposed to withstand the worst possible disasters in their regions, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. But planners can be wrong. The industry plan, called FLEX, is the nuclear industry’s method for meeting new US Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules that will force 65 plants in the US to get extra emergency equipment on site and store it protectively. The FLEX program is supposed to help nuclear plants handle the biggest disasters. Under the plan, plant operators can summon help from the regional centers in Memphis and Phoenix. In addition to having several duplicate sets of plant emergency gear, industry officials say the centers will likely have heavier equipment that could include an emergency generator large enough to power a plant’s emergency cooling systems, equipment to treat cooling water and extra radiation protection gear for workers. Federal regulators must still decide whether to approve the plans submitted by individual plants. ‘They need to show us not just that they have the pump, but that they’ve done all the appropriate designing and engineering so that they have a hookup for that pump,’ says NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said. ‘They’re not going to be trying to figure out, “Where are we going to plug this thing in?”‘”

Source: US Nuclear Industry Plans “Rescue Wagon” To Avert Meltdowns

US Freezes Nuclear Power Plant Permits Because of Waste Issues

August 9th, 2012 08:21 admin View Comments


KindMind writes “The U.S. Government said it will stop issuing all permits for new plants and license extensions for existing plants are being frozen due to concerns over waste storage. From the article: ‘The government’s main watchdog, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, believes that current storage plans are safe and achievable. But a federal court said that the NRC didn’t detail what the environmental consequences would be if the agency is wrong. The NRC says that “We are now considering all available options for resolving the waste issue, But, in recognition of our duties under the law, we will not issue [reactor] licenses until the court’s remand is appropriately addressed.” Affected are 14 reactors awaiting license renewals, and an additional 16 reactors awaiting permits for new construction.’”

Source: US Freezes Nuclear Power Plant Permits Because of Waste Issues

NRC Accused of Ignoring Proliferation Risks With SILEX Enrichment

July 31st, 2012 07:06 admin View Comments


Harperdog writes “Scott Kemp has a disturbing look at SILEX, a new technology that ‘happens to be well suited for making nuclear weapons.’ There are many disturbing aspects the this article, not least that the NRC, which is required to consider the critical question of proliferation, has so far punted when it comes to examining that question. ‘The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has refused to consider the proliferation risk in its decision to issue a license for the first commercial SILEX facility, despite a statutory obligation to do so. Only a few weeks remain for Congress to intervene.’” Not everyone agrees that SILEX poses a real proliferation threat. Kind of a shame that its environmental benefits (lower power consumption and a smaller waste stream than existing processes) are what increase the proliferation risk.

Source: NRC Accused of Ignoring Proliferation Risks With SILEX Enrichment

US Approves Two New Nuclear Reactors

February 9th, 2012 02:43 admin View Comments


JoeRobe writes “For the first time in 30 years, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved licenses to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia. These are the first licenses to be issued since the Three Mile Island incident in 1979. The pair of facilities will cost $14 billion and produce 2.2 GW of power (able to power ~1 million homes). They will be Westinghouse AP1000 designs, which are the newest reactors approved by the NRC. These models passively cool their fuel rods using condensation and gravity, rather than electricity, preventing the possibility of another Fukushima Daiichi-type meltdown due to loss of power to cooling water pumps.” Adds Unknown Lamer: “Expected to begin operation in 2016 or 2017, the pair of new AP1000 reactors will produce around 2GW of power for the southeast. This is the first of the new combined construction and operating licenses ever issued by the NRC; hopefully this bodes well for the many other pending applications.”

Source: US Approves Two New Nuclear Reactors

NRC Study Lowers Hazard Estimate For Nuke Plants

August 1st, 2011 08:15 admin View Comments


JSBiff writes “With the incident at Fukushima causing much renewed concern about the risks of nuclear power this year, the NY Times brings news that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released the preliminary version of a safety report due out in April 2012, based upon new science about the behavior of Cesium-137. The report finds that the public health hazards of nuclear accidents at the types of reactor designs currently in common use are lower than previously thought, based upon a better understanding of the science behind earlier estimates.”

Source: NRC Study Lowers Hazard Estimate For Nuke Plants

Flood Berm Collapses At Nebraska Nuclear Plant

June 26th, 2011 06:01 admin View Comments


mdsolar writes “A berm holding the flooded Missouri River back from a Nebraska nuclear power station collapsed early Sunday, but federal regulators said they were monitoring the situation and there was no danger. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station shut down in early April for refueling, and there is no water inside the plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Also, the river is not expected to rise higher than the level the plant was designed to handle. NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said the plant remains safe.”

Source: Flood Berm Collapses At Nebraska Nuclear Plant

Nebraska Nuclear Plant Flood Defenses Tested

June 24th, 2011 06:21 admin View Comments


mdsolar tips an article at the NY Times which begins: “Pictures of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant north of Omaha, Neb., show it encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday. The plant’s defenses include new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level. Additional concrete barriers and permanent berms, more sandbags and another power line into the plant have been added. The plant was shut down in April for refueling and will remain so until the flood threat is passed. ‘Today the plant is well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe,’ Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks said on an agency blog this week. But a year ago, those new defenses were not in place, and the plant’s hard barriers could have failed against a 1,010-foot flood, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission contends in a yearlong inspection and enforcement action against the plant’s operator, the Omaha Public Power District.”

Source: Nebraska Nuclear Plant Flood Defenses Tested

US Alarmed Over Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

March 17th, 2011 03:09 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens writes “The Washington Post reports that the US is urging Americans who live within 50 miles of Japan’s earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to evacuate as Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that no water remains in a deep pool used to cool spent fuel at the plant and that radiation levels there are thought to be ‘extremely high.’ Jaczko’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee suggests that damage to the plant is worse than the Japanese government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has acknowledged. On Tuesday, the company said water levels in three of the site’s seven fuel pools were dropping, but did not say that the fuel rods themselves had been exposed. Left exposed to the air, the fuel rods will start to decay and release radioactivity into the air and lack of water in at least one spent-fuel pool sparked fears of a worst-case scenario: the fuel could combust. ‘If there’s no water in there, the spent fuel can start a fire,’ says Eric Moore, a consultant to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on nuclear plant design and safety issues. ‘Once you have that fire, there’s a high risk of radiation getting out, spewed by the fire.’ The power company says a reduced crew of 50 to 70 employees — far fewer than the 1,400 or more at the plant during normal operations — had been working in shifts to keep seawater flowing to the three reactors now in trouble. Their withdrawal on Wednesday temporarily left the plant with nobody to continue cooling operations.”

Source: US Alarmed Over Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

Today’s Best Science: Mercury Orbiting, Toxin-Sucking Bananas, Language Colors Perception

March 16th, 2011 03:28 admin View Comments
  • Orbit time! Launched in 2004, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft will this Friday become the first probe to orbit Mercury—potentially uncovering polar ice or explaining why the planet is oddly dense.
  • Older AND wiser: When scientists played recordings of lion roars for elephants, they discovered that the oldest female elephants were the most sensitive, and even discerned the calls of lions from lionesses.
  • Health experts say that this year’s cholera epidemic in Haiti could affect double the UN’s prediction of 400,000 people. The UN’s “crude” predictions assumed only a certain percentage of the population would be affected, whereas the new estimate takes water supplies and immunity into consideration.
  • Bananas are redefining the term “water-purification plant.” It turns out minced banana peels efficiently remove toxic metals from drinking water.
  • Your blue is not my bleu: A new study suggests that language colors our thoughts, after they found that Japanese volunteers distinguished light and dark blues better than English speakers.
  • Japan update: The U.S. government thinks Japan has underestimated nuclear risk since last Friday’s quake, saying that Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 4 nuclear reactor has probably boiled dry and is leaking radiation. As Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said to the New York Times, “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.â€

Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Source: Today’s Best Science: Mercury Orbiting, Toxin-Sucking Bananas, Language Colors Perception

Labor Lockout Lingers At Honeywell Nuclear Plant

December 21st, 2010 12:21 admin View Comments

Hugh Pickens writes “Federal News Radio reports that in Metropolis, Illinois, the nation’s only site for refining uranium for eventual use in nuclear power plants, some 230 union workers locked out by the company since last June take turns picketing and warning of possible toxic releases into the community while they’re not at their jobs. Even in better times, the plant has been a source of concern. In September 2003, toxic hydrogen fluoride was released in an accident. Three months later, seepage of mildly radioactive gas sent four people to the hospital and prompted the evacuation of nearby residents. Now a recent safety inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that temporary workers brought in by Honeywell weren’t properly trained and were cheating on tests, and that Honeywell had neglected to report liquids that were released into the air. Metropolis’ troubles began last spring when efforts to negotiate a new contract broke down at the Honeywell plant. Honeywell opted not to let the union employees work without a contract, citing the lack of bargaining progress and what it called the union’s refusal to agree to provide 24 hours of notice before any strike.”

Source: Labor Lockout Lingers At Honeywell Nuclear Plant