Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: IV-20-006 May 18, 2020
Contact: Victor Dricks, 817-200-1128
 
NRC Begins Special Inspection at River Bend Nuclear Power Plant
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection at the River Bend nuclear power plant to review circumstances related to the failure of five portable emergency diesel generators during testing. The plant, operated by Entergy Operations, is located in St. Francisville, La.
 
The generators are used to supply power to plant systems in the event of a prolonged loss of off-site electrical power coupled with a failure of the permanently installed emergency generators. These portable generators were acquired as part of the facility’s safety enhancements mandated by the NRC following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility in Japan.
 
The three-member NRC team will develop a chronology of the test failures and evaluate the licensee’s causal analyses and the adequacy of corrective actions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will complete most of their work remotely. An inspection report documenting the team’s findings will be publicly available within 45 days of the end of the inspection.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-20-015 May 12, 2020
Contact: Roger Hannah, 404-997-4417
 
NRC Schedules Virtual Meeting to Discuss 2019 Safety Performance of Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant Operating Units and Units Under Construction
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will discuss the 2019 safety performance of the two operating units at the Vogtle nuclear power plant as well as the two units under construction at the site during a virtual meeting scheduled for May 20.
 
The Vogtle plant is located in east Georgia near Augusta and is operated by the Southern Nuclear Operating Co. The two operating units began operation in 1987 and 1989, and the two units under construction received combined operating licenses in 2012.
 
The session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time with NRC employees responsible for plant inspections participating, including the operating and construction resident inspectors. The meeting will be accessible via Skype. For individuals without access to Skype, the telephone conference number is 301-415-0333, passcode is 68905#.
 
The NRC Reactor Oversight Process and the Construction Reactor Oversight Process, both requiring thousands of hours of inspection each year, use color-coded inspection findings and indicators to measure plant performance. The colors start at green and increase to white, yellow or red, commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved. Inspection findings or performance indicators with more than very low safety significance trigger increased NRC oversight.
 
Inspections for the operating units and the construction units are performed by separate NRC resident inspectors and other inspection specialists from the NRC Region II office in Atlanta.
 
The NRC determined that the Vogtle operating units operated safely during 2019, but in March 2020, the NRC issued the final significance determination of a white finding and notice of violation involving a failure to adequately calibrate some containment radiation monitors. The failure would have resulted in overly conservative emergency declarations during certain accident scenarios. The NRC staff determined that Vogtle Units 1 and 2 are under increased oversight (retroactive to the third quarter of 2019) and will remain under increased oversight until the NRC completes a supplemental inspection to provide assurance that corrective actions address the causes and prevent recurrence. That inspection has not yet been scheduled.
 
The NRC found that Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are being built in a safe manner, and those units will remain under the NRC’s normal level of oversight for plants under construction.
 
The annual assessment letters for Vogtle 1 & 2 (the operating units) and Vogtle 3 & 4 (the units under construction), which include upcoming inspection plans, are available on the NRC website. Current performance information for Vogtle Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3, and Unit 4 is also available and is updated on a quarterly basis.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-20-014 May 7, 2020
Contact: Roger Hannah, 404-997-4417
 
NRC Schedules Virtual Meeting to Discuss 2019 Safety Performance of St. Lucie and Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plants
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will discuss the 2019 safety performance of the St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear power plants during a virtual meeting scheduled for May 19.
 
The two-unit St. Lucie and Turkey Point plants are in Florida with both plants operated by Florida Power & Light Co.
 
The session will be held from 3-4 p.m., Eastern Time with NRC employees responsible for plant inspections participating, including the resident inspectors based at the site. The meeting will be accessible via Skype. For individuals without access to Skype, the telephone conference number is 301-415-0333, passcode 3519083#.
 
The NRC determined that the St. Lucie and Turkey Point plants operated safely during 2019 and both plants are currently under the NRC’s normal level of oversight.
 
The NRC Reactor Oversight Process, which requires thousands of hours of inspection each year, uses color-coded inspection findings and indicators to measure plant performance. The colors start at green and increase to white, yellow or red, commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved. Inspection findings or performance indicators with more than very low safety significance trigger increased NRC oversight.
 
Inspections at the St. Lucie and Turkey Point plants are performed by NRC resident inspectors and other inspection specialists from the NRC Region II office in Atlanta.
 
The annual assessment letters for the St. Lucie plant and the Turkey Point plant, which include upcoming inspection plans for the plants, are available on the NRC website. Current performance information for St. Lucie Unit 1St. Lucie Unit 2Turkey Point Unit 3, and Turkey Point Unit 4 is also available and is updated on a quarterly basis.
 

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NNSA Plutonium Pit Complex Sites

DOE Repeatedly Asks Safety Board for Time Extensions,
Los Alamos Lab Asked for >150 Cleanup Milestone Extensions,
But During Pandemic NNSA Rejects NM Senators’ Request for Extension of Public Comment on Plutonium Bomb Core Production
 
Thanks to everyone for your help and signatures in prompting our Senators to request more time for public comments. Unfortunately, DOE officials have not changed the due date, which is this Saturday, May 9th. Please consider submitting comments on this latest plan to expand nuclear weapons production in New Mexico. See below for details.
 
Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), has rejected a request by New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to extend the public comment period on expanded plutonium “pit” bomb core production because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, even in normal times NNSA and its parent Department of Energy routinely ask other government agencies for major time extensions when it comes to cleanup and independent oversight.
 
The two Senators requested a 45 day comment period extension on behalf of more than 120 organizations and individuals. Before that, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich were among 24 Senators who asked the Office of Management and Budget to extend all federal public comment periods during the coronavirus national emergency. 
 
NNSA’s rejection of their request is an apparent double standard given DOE’s requests for time extensions to respond to nuclear safety recommendations by the independent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. [See endnote 1] The Safety Board has long reported on chronic nuclear safety problems at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). DOE has sought to kill the messenger by restricting Safety Board access to NNSA nuclear weapons facilities. 
 
Concerning cleanup, the Lab asked the New Mexico Environment Department for more than 150 time extensions for legally required cleanup milestones, which NMED granted. The lack of comprehensive cleanup has caused extensive groundwater contamination, which LANL use to claim was impossible but now threatens the regional aquifer. 
 
In contrast, NNSA has told Senators Udall and Heinrich that the expansion of plutonium pit production at LANL is so vital to national security that the agency cannot wait another 45 days for public comment, even while northern New Mexico is impacted by the pandemic. Lab cleanup has stopped because of coronavirus, but expanded plutonium pit production must go on, which in turn will cause the need for more cleanup. Instead DOE plans to cut cleanup funding by nearly half while LANL’s nuclear weapons production programs are slated for a 33% increase ($2.9 billion in FY 2021).
 
Concerning NNSA’s claims of national security, it’s important to note that no future pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. Instead, future production will be for heavily modified pits for speculative new-design nuclear weapons that can’t be tested because of the global testing moratorium, hence possibly lowering reliability. Alternatively, new modified pits could prompt the U.S. to resume nuclear weapons testing, with severe international proliferation consequences. Independent experts have found that existing plutonium pits last at least a century (the average pit age in the active stockpile is less than 40 years old). More than 15,000 pits are already stored at NNSA’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, TX. 
 
NNSA plans to spend at least $5.8 billion at LANL and $4.6 billion at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina over the next decade on construction or upgrades of plutonium pit production facilities. Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), NNSA has released a draft environmental impact statement for pit production at SRS since it is a completely new mission there. But NNSA claims that it is complying with its legal obligations under NEPA for the Los Alamos Lab by relying upon a draft “Supplement Analysis” to an outdated 2008 site-wide environmental impact statement. It is that draft Supplement Analysis that is now up for public comment. NNSA has already “preliminarily” concluded that it will NOT prepare a new site-wide EIS.
 
In response to earlier requests, the NNSA had extended the comment period on LANL’s Supplement Analysis a mere 15 days to May 8, 2020. But the agency claimed that “a two month extension of the comment period would have a severe adverse impact on the detailed planning and coordination of this effort” to expand plutonium pit production at LANL. [See endnote 2] That is difficult to believe given NNSA’s chronic track record of massive cost overruns and broken schedules. 
 
For starters, the Department of Energy has been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement for 27 consecutive years. Independent experts have found that most of NNSA’s proposed major projects are canceled outright, but of the few who aren’t “we could find no successful historical major project that both cost more than $700 million and achieved CD-4 [the Critical Decision to begin operations] in less than 16 years.” [See endnote 3] This is particularly relevant given that NNSA proposes to “repurpose” the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS for pit production, after that canceled project wasted more than 7 billion taxpayer dollars. Similarly, a major new plutonium facility at LANL was cancelled in 2012 when its projected construction costs exploded ten-fold to $6.5 billion. 
 
Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch Director, commented, “The NNSA is essentially telling the public to get lost during this epidemic, we’re ramming through more nuclear weapons. But all the nukes in the world won’t protect us from coronavirus. Citizens should use this unfairly limited public comment opportunity to demand that their taxpayer dollars produce real national security. Masks, ventilators and universal coronavirus testing are needed, not more nukes!”
 
# # #
 
Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich extension request to NNSA is available at https://nukewatch.org/senators-letter-to-nnsa-april22/
 
NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty’s rejection letter to Sen. Tom Udall is at 
 
NNSA’s March 2020 Draft Supplement Analysis of the 2008 Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory for Plutonium Operations is available at https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/03/f72/draft-supplement-analysis-eis-0380-sa-06-lanl-pit-production-2020-03.pdf
 
The deadline for comments is Saturday May 9. Comments can be emailed to lanlsweissa@nnsa.doe.gov, Subject line LANL SWEIS SA comment. 
 
Sample comments by NukeWatch NM are available at 
 
See NukeWatch NM plutonium pit production fact sheet at 
 
This press release is available online at 
 
Endnotes
[1] DOE’s latest request, see Secretary Dan Brouillette to DNFSB Chairman Bruce Hamilton, April 27, 2020, https://nukewatch.org/doe-secretary-brouillette-request-for-extension-to-respond-to-recommendation-2020/
[3] independent Assessment of the Two-Site Pit Production Decision: Executive Summary, Institute for Independent Analysis, May 2019, https://nukewatch.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IDA-With-cover-page.pdf
 
Please help us do what we do. Thank you!
 
Sincerely,  Jay Coghlan, Executive Director                                
                  Scott Kovac, Research and Operations Director
                  Sophie Stroud, Digital Content Manager and Youth Outreach 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-20-013 May 6, 2020
Contact: Roger Hannah, 404-997-4417
 
NRC Schedules Virtual Meeting to Discuss 2019 Safety Performance of Catawba, McGuire and Oconee Nuclear Power Plants
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will discuss the 2019 safety performance of the Catawba, McGuire, and Oconee nuclear power plants during a virtual meeting scheduled for May 18.
 
The two-unit Catawba and three-unit Oconee plants are located in South Carolina and the two-unit McGuire plant is located in North Carolina. The three plants are operated by Duke Energy.
 
The meeting will be held from 2-3 p.m., Eastern Time with NRC employees responsible for plant inspections participating. including the resident inspectors based at the site The meeting will be accessible via Skype. For individuals without access to Skype, the telephone conference number is 301-415-0333, passcode is 833894#.
 
The NRC determined that the Catawba, McGuire, and Oconee power plants operated safely during 2019 and all three plants are currently under the NRC’s normal level of oversight.
 
The NRC Reactor Oversight Process, which requires thousands of hours of inspection each year, uses color-coded inspection findings and indicators to measure plant performance. The colors start at green and increase to white, yellow or red, commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved. Inspection findings or performance indicators with more than very low safety significance trigger increased NRC oversight.
 
Inspections at the Catawba, McGuire, and Oconee plants are performed by NRC resident inspectors and other inspection specialists from the Region II office in Atlanta.
 
The annual assessment letters for the Catawba plant, the McGuire plant, and the Oconee plant, which include upcoming inspection plans for the plants, are available on the NRC website. Current performance information for Catawba Unit 1Catawba Unit 2McGuire Unit 1McGuire Unit 2Oconee Unit 1Oconee Unit 2, and Oconee Unit 3, is also available on the website and updated on a quarterly basis.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 20-025 May 6, 2020
CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Seeks Public Comment on Draft Environmental Report for Proposed Spent Fuel Storage Facility in Texas
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on its draft Environmental Impact Statement for Interim Storage Partners’ application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Andrews County, Texas. After considering the environmental impacts of the proposed action, the NRC staff’s preliminary recommendation is issuance of an NRC license.
 
In consideration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, NRC staff is providing an extended period for the public to submit comments on the draft EIS. Details on how to submit comments in writing will soon be published in the Federal Register. Publication of that notice will begin the extended public comment period, which will run for 120 days. The NRC staff plans to hold a webinar and several public meetings in the vicinity of Andrews County during the comment period to present the staff’s preliminary findings and receive comments. As the COVID-19 public health emergency evolves, the NRC staff will continue to re-evaluate its plans for engaging the public. Further information on the meetings will be included in a separate Federal Register notice and on the NRC’s Public Meetings webpage.
 
ISP has requested a license to store approximately 5,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel at the proposed site. Future expansion phases, if later approved by the NRC, would allow the storage of up to 40,000 metric tons. The storage canisters would be transported to the site by rail from operating, decommissioning, and decommissioned commercial nuclear power plants around the country.
 
The NRC draft EIS assesses the environmental impacts of the entire project, including construction, operation, transportation, and decommissioning. During development of the draft EIS, staff looked at the impacts to land use, geology and soils, surface waters and wetlands, groundwater, ecological resources, historic and cultural resources, environmental justice and several other areas. A short “reader’s guide” summarizing the report is also available.
 
NRC staff will review the public comments and prepare the final EIS in a document scheduled to be published in May 2021. The NRC staff also plans to complete a parallel safety review of the ISP application and publish a Safety Evaluation Report in May 2021. A decision on whether to grant ISP a license would follow thereafter.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-20-012 May 4, 2020
Contact: Roger Hannah, 404-997-4417
 
NRC Schedules Virtual Meeting to Discuss 2019 Safety Performance of Robinson Nuclear Power Plant
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will discuss the 2019 safety performance of the Robinson nuclear power plant during a virtual meeting scheduled for May 13.
 
The Robinson plant is in South Carolina and operated by Duke Energy.
 
The session will be held from 3-3:45 p.m., Eastern Time, with NRC employees responsible for plant inspections participating, including the resident inspectors based at the site. The meeting will be accessible via Skype. For individuals without access to Skype, the telephone conference number is 301-415-0333, passcode 3083427#.
 
The NRC determined that the Robinson plant operated safely during 2019 and is currently under the NRC’s normal level of oversight.
 
The NRC Reactor Oversight Process, which requires thousands of hours of inspection each year, uses color-coded inspection findings and indicators to measure plant performance. The colors start at green and increase to white, yellow or red, commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved. Inspection findings or performance indicators with more than very low safety significance trigger increased NRC oversight.
 
Inspections at the Robinson plant are conducted by NRC resident inspectors and other inspection specialists from the NRC Region II office in Atlanta.
 
The annual assessment letters for the Robinson plant, which includes upcoming inspection plans, is available on the NRC website. Current performance information for Robinson is also available and is updated on a quarterly basis.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 20-024 May 1, 2020
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Seeks Public Comment on Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Advanced Reactor Designs; Agency to Hold Public Webinar
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff seek public comment regarding information that would assist the agency in drafting a Generic Environmental Impact Statement for small advanced reactor designs.
 
NRC staff will consider written comments on the GEIS scoping process until June 30, following the publication of a notice in the Federal Register. Include Docket ID NRC-2020-0101 with the submitted comment using the regulations.gov website. The Federal Register notice will include details for participating in the NRC’s May 28 webinar to discuss the GEIS process and gather input.
 
The NRC’s GEIS effort would cover advanced nuclear reactors that would generate small amounts of electricity with a small environmental footprint and do not use water to cool the fuel. The GEIS would streamline the environmental review process for future small-scale advanced nuclear reactors. The GEIS would determine a) environmental impacts that could result in essentially the same impact for those designs that fit within parameters set in the GEIS; and b) environmental impacts that would require plant-specific analysis. Environmental reviews for future small-scale advanced nuclear reactor license applications could supplement the GEIS with those site-specific analyses.
 
Small-scale advanced reactors include potential designs that could be licensed for use at U.S. sites that meet NRC requirements. The NRC is using a technology-neutral approach with a range of information broad enough to account for different reactor designs located on a site.
 
The NRC is seeking input from the public and stakeholders regarding the reactor and site parameters that should be included in the GEIS. In addition, the NRC is seeking input on other information types that both can and cannot be resolved generically. Additional information on the GEIS development and schedule is available on the agency’s website.
 
Three Mile Island:  NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 05000289/2020001, EXELON GENERATION CO., LLC, THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR STATION, UNIT 1

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