NRC: Meeting with petitioner requesting GE BWRs Mark I Reactors license suspension


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Topics Discussed at May 2, 2011 Meetings with Public Interest Groups

Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Project on Government Oversight, Riverkeeper, Inc., Pilgrim Watch

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Susquehanna: Temporary Instruction 2515/183 Inspection Report


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Fukushima - One Step Forward and Four Steps Back as Each Unit Challenged by New Problems

Gundersen says Fukushima's gaseous and liquid releases continue unabated.  With a meltdown at Unit 1, Unit 4 leaning and facing possible collapse, several units contaminating ground water, and area school children outside the exclusion zone receiving adult occupational radiation doses, the situation continues to worsen. TEPCO needs a cohesive plan and international support to protect against world-wide contamination.

Regulatory Inadequacies Threatening U.S. Nuclear Reactor Safety Detailed in New Markey Report


Regulatory Inadequacies Threatening U.S. Nuclear Reactor Safety Detailed in New Markey Report

“Fukushima Fallout” Reveals Breakdown in Emergency System Regulations Exposed Since Japanese Reactor Meltdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, today released a report prepared by his staff at his direction entitled “Fukushima Fallout: Regulatory Loopholes at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants”, a summary of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulatory inadequacies, practices and decisions that impair effective nuclear safety oversight in the United States.

The report, created in the wake of the Japanese catastrophe, highlights the following key findings:

  • Widespread malfunctions and inoperability of emergency diesel generators at nuclear power plants
  • The absence of emergency back-up power requirements at some spent fuel pools
  • The absence of requirements to prevent hydrogen explosions at reactors and spent fuel pools
  • Outdated seismic safety requirements, even as applications for new licenses and license extensions for many nuclear reactors continue to be processed by the NRC.

“It is apparent that many of the failures of the reactor cooling systems and measures to prevent explosions that led to the meltdowns in Japan could also occur in the United States, and would not even be violations of current regulations,” said Rep. Markey. “This is unacceptable, and I believe that the NRC must halt its processing of all pending nuclear reactor licensing applications until these vulnerabilities are fully remedied.”

The report concludes that “An examination of NRC regulations demonstrates that flawed assumptions and under-estimation of safety risks are currently an inherent part of the NRC regulatory program, due to a long history of decisions made by prior Commissions or by the NRC staff that have all too often acquiesced to industry requests for a weakening of safety standards. Coupled with reports that the near-term inspections being conducted at United States nuclear power plants may be limited in scope and subject to restrictions on public disclosure, it would be unwise to move forward with any pending licensing actions before the NRC fully completes its review and upgrades its safety requirements.”

A copy of the full report can be found HERE.

Rep. Markey recently introduced legislation to overhaul nuclear safety. The Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011 will impose a moratorium on all new nuclear reactor licenses or license extensions until new safety requirements are in place that reflect the lessons learned from the Fukushima reactor meltdown.

Rep. Markey has served on the Committees that have oversight over the NRC and the nuclear utility industry since 1976.  For more than three decades, Rep. Markey has worked to secure nuclear power plants and ensure the public safety in the event of a nuclear disaster. In 1979, before the Three Mile Island accident occurred, Rep. Markey introduced legislation providing for a three year moratorium on licensing of new nuclear power plants until a top to bottom safety analysis on nuclear reactors could be performed. In 1982, he chaired a hearing on the distribution of potassium iodide.  In 1986, he chaired hearings on the causes and consequences of the disaster at Chernobyl. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rep. Markey passed a law to strengthen security for nuclear reactors and materials, and a law providing for distribution of potassium iodide to those living within 20 miles of a nuclear reactor. In 2010, he requested a Government Accountability Office investigation into the resiliency of nuclear power plants to earthquakes and other natural disasters.  And several days before the earthquake in Japan, Rep. Markey raised concerns regarding the seismic resiliency of the Westinghouse AP1000, a new nuclear reactor whose design is currently pending before the NRC.

NRC chief: 10-mile evac zone 'a planning standard'

From the Associated Press:

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday that the 10-mile emergency evacuation zone around U.S. nuclear plants is a "planning standard" that could change during an accident or attack.

Chairman Gregory Jaczko said his agency recommended that Americans move 50 miles away from the Japanese plants that were failing after an earthquake in March because of "the potential for a more significant event to develop."

In the "highly unlikely" event of an accident at a U.S. plant, he said, decisions would be based "on what information we can get."

"If we needed to take action beyond 10 miles, that's certainly what we would recommend," he said.

Critics of the Indian Point nuclear power plants — which Jaczko toured on Tuesday — say the NRC's 50-mile advisory in Japan proved that a larger area is endangered by the plants than the NRC has acknowledged. They also say it would be impossible to evacuate the millions of people within 50 miles of Indian Point, which includes most of New York City, so the plants' application for new licenses should be denied.

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NRC: Cyber Security Plan Implementation Schedule


ADAMS Accession No.:  ML110980538 (PDF)

Fission Stories #39: Ripley Wouldn’t Believe It

From All Things Nuclear:

Nuclear power plants are inherently dangerous. They generate tremendous amounts of energy, producing large quantities of highly radioactive material along the way. Strict controls are required to ensure that this potentially deadly combination is properly managed to an acceptably low risk level.

Even Robert Ripley, the creator of the well-known Rip1ey’s Believe It Or Not syndicated newspaper feature and museums, probably wouldn’t believe the response by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to potential natural gas hazards at two U.S. reactors.

In 1991, the NRC wrote a report taking the owners of the Fort St. Vrain nuclear plant in Colorado to task for not taking seriously the threat of a natural gas explosion near the plant. The report said that the plant owners did not adequately evaluate “external hazards that could have affected the safe operation” of the facility, and that a later safety evaluation “was too narrowly focused and did not consider additional possible malfunctions.”

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Congress to Obama: Fully Implement Nuclear “Emergency Pill” Law

For Immediate Release                  
May 10, 2011                                                     

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-225-2836
Harry Glenn (Young) 202-225-5961
Matt Dennis (Lowey) 202-225-6506
David Peluso (Bilirakis) 202-225-5755

Congress to Obama: Fully Implement Nuclear “Emergency Pill” Law

In Wake of Fukushima Meltdown, Bipartisan Group of 30 Members Join in Support of 2002 Law Requiring Potassium Iodide for Residents Living within 20 Miles of Nuclear Plants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) led a letter signed by 30 House Members sent yesterday to President Barack Obama calling for full implementation of the 2002 law that requires distribution of potassium iodide – also called KI – to Americans living within a 20 mile radius of a nuclear power plant. Although this law has been on the books since 2002, it has yet to be implemented. Previously, distribution of KI was limited to just those within 10 miles, and only to states that requested it from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In Japan, the NRC recommended a fifty-mile evacuation zone for U.S. citizens and potassium iodide was made available for military personnel, Americans working in the disaster relief effort, and other Americans living in or visiting Japan.
“We write to urge you to implement the 2002 law requiring the distribution of potassium iodide to the people who live within 20 miles of nuclear power reactors in order to protect the Americans in at least 33 States against the possibility of a radioactive iodine release from a nearby nuclear reactor,” wrote the Representatives in the letter to President Obama. If an earthquake, terrorist attack, or accident caused a radiation release in the United States, one of the greatest risks to health comes from radioactive forms of the chemical element iodine.”
Potassium iodide has been found to protect individuals, especially young children, from the cancer-causing releases of radioactive iodine by flooding it with stable iodine so that the gland cannot take up the cancer-causing radioactive form. The Food and Drug Administration has found that inhalation of radioactive iodine is of particular concern for those residing in the immediate area of a nuclear accident or otherwise directly exposed to radiation. With several large population centers within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant, rapid evacuation may not be a viable option for residents.
“Our experience with Hurricane Katrina, and the Japanese experience shows just how difficult it can be to rapidly evacuate large population centers.” wrote the Representatives. “Distribution of potassium iodide now, before the unlikely event of a disaster, is the prudent course.”
A copy of the letter to President Obama can be found HERE.
Rep. Markey amended the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to make potassium iodide available to state and local governments to meet the needs of all persons living within a 20-mile radius of a nuclear power plant.

NRC: 30-Day Update on Events in Japan

On Thursday, May 12, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will receive its first 30-day briefing from the agency task force created to examine issues raised by the Fukushima reactor accident to see what lessons might be applicable to U.S. reactors. The briefing will be held at 9:30 a.m. at NRC Headquarters, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md.

Because of the level of media interest, this event will be a mandatory pool for television. C-SPAN will provide a two-camera, high definition pool for distribution via the usual pool methods. Japanese networks are asked to obtain the feed from their U.S. network partners.

As in the case of the initial commission meeting, seats on one side of the commission hearing room will be reserved for accredited members of the news media. Photographers will have limited space at the meeting in which to take photos. Movement must be kept to a minimum so as not to be distracting and entry into the inner well closest to the Commission briefing table is prohibited.

Plan to arrive in advance of the meeting at the Marinelli Road entrance of the NRC with proper media credentials. The NRC is located across the street from the White Flint Metro station. Parking is available at the White Flint metro parking garage on Marinelli Road.

Members of the media are asked to call the NRC Office of Public Affairs at 301-415-8200 in advance to provide the names of those attending the meeting to assure sufficient seating.

Immediately following the meeting commissioners and the task force staff will exit the commission meeting room. Because of the ongoing nature of the task force review, there will be no interviews afterwards.

The commission meeting will be open to public observation and will be webcast at:

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