The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of the Inspector General, recently issued a new report. To view this and other reports issued by the office, please click here.
From the Huffington Post:
I received the following email a few days ago from a Russian nuclear physicist friend who is an expert on the kinds of gases being released at Fukushima. Here is what he wrote:
About Japan: the problem is that the reactor uses "dirty" fuel. It is a combination of plutonium and uranium (MOX). I suspect that the old fuel rods have bean spread out due to the explosion and the surrounding area is contaminated with plutonium which means you can never return to this place again. It is like a new Tchernobyl. Personally, I am not surprised that the authority has not informed people about this.
NRC PUBLIC MEETING MAY 18 IN ROCKVILLE, MD, TO DISCUSS UPCOMING SEISMIC REVIEW OF U.S. NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a public meeting at the agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., on Wednesday, May 18, to discuss the information and analysis needed for an updated understanding of seismic hazards at U.S. reactors.
The NRC will hold the meeting in the Commission Meeting Room of the agency’s One White Flint North building, 11555 Rockville Pike in Rockville, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. NRC staff will provide an update on Generic Issue 199 (GI-199), which over the past few years has been examining updated seismic models and information for Eastern and Central U.S. nuclear power plants. GI-199 continues to conclude the plants can safely withstand earthquakes at their sites.
Discussions for the remainder of the meeting will focus on how to develop the best available seismic information and the best available methods for evaluating that information, as well as considering strategies for conducting the work as efficiently as possible. The public is invited to participate at designated points in the agenda. A teleconference will be available; please contact Jonathan Rowley at 301-415-4053 by May 16 for details.
NRC staff will consider information from the meeting in preparing a Generic Letter regarding GI-199 for later this year. The letter is expected to ask U.S. nuclear power plants to re- evaluate their seismic hazards. The NRC discussed preliminary GI-199 findings last year; more information on the issue is available on the NRC website.
THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR STATION, UNIT 1: NRC SECURITY INSPECTION REPORT NO. 05000289/2011404
ADAMS Accession No. ML111290246 (PDF)
From the Boston Globe:
AFTER AN earthquake and tsunami rocked a nuclear power plant in Japan, the industry worked hard to equate fallout from massive radiation leaks with benign X-rays.
That’s nice, but there are still tough questions about safety and emergency plans at US plants — and the answers should come fast and straight from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Historically, that’s not the way it works, said Senate President Therese Murray, whose district covers the Pilgrim Nuclear Station on Manomet shore. “We’ve been dealing with the NRC for years and never get any kind of response. It’s usually a stone wall,’’ said Murray. When the agency does reply, she asks a lawyer “to figure out what they’re telling us.’’
From New York Times:
In the fall of 2007, workers at the Byron nuclear power plant in Illinois were using a wire brush to clean a badly corroded steel pipe — one in a series that circulate cooling water to essential emergency equipment — when something unexpected happened: the brush poked through.
The resulting leak caused a 12-day shutdown of the two reactors for repairs.
The plant’s owner, the Exelon Corporation, had long known that corrosion was thinning most of these pipes. But rather than fix them, it repeatedly lowered the minimum thickness it deemed safe. By the time the pipe broke, Exelon had declared that pipe walls just three-hundredths of an inch thick — less than one-tenth the original minimum thickness — would be good enough.
Though no radioactive material was released, safety experts say that if enough pipes had ruptured during a reactor accident, the result could easily have been a nuclear catastrophe at a plant just 100 miles west of Chicago.
Exelon’s risky decisions occurred under the noses of on-site inspectors from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. No documented inspection of the pipes was made by anyone from the N.R.C. for at least the eight years preceding the leak, and the agency also failed to notice that Exelon kept lowering the acceptable standard, according to a subsequent investigation by the commission’s inspector general.
A report from the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission Ex-Secretariat, Dr. Saji, credits the current status of the accident to "luck". Gundersen discusses what could have happened if the wind had been blowing inland.
I was just sent the New England Journal of Medicine piece entitled: "Short-term and Long-term Health Risks of Nuclear-Power-Plant Accidents." (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1103676?query=featured_home). You are listed as one of the authors.
Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000277/2011002 and 05000278/2011002
ADAMS Accession No. ML111260700 (PDF)
A month after a devastating earthquake sent a wall of water across the Japanese landscape, the global terrain of the atomic power industry has been forever altered.
The ongoing drama at the power plant in Fukushima -- a name now ranked alongside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl as history's worst nuclear accidents -- has erased the momentum the nuclear industry has seen in recent years.
The growth in the emerging world, such as China and India, fueled increased demand in planned reactors. Oil-rich regions like the United Arab Emirates and smaller nations like Vietnam announced plans to build nuclear reactors in the past year. Once the bane of environmentalists, the nuclear industry enjoyed newfound "green" credentials as a cleaner alternative to coal-fired plants that belch greenhouse gases to produce electricity.
Before Fukushima, a "nuclear renaissance" -- as it was termed in the press -- seemed well underway, except for this point: Nuclear power, as a total of world energy supply, has been in steady decline for the past decade.
From 2000 to 2008, nuclear energy dropped from 16.7% to 13.5% of global energy production, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2009. The 2010-11 preliminary report, expected to be released Wednesday, will show the downward trend has continued, according to study author Mycle Schneider. While nuclear energy production has steadily increased, its piece of the global electricity pie is shrinking compared to traditional sources such as coal and alternatives like wind and solar power.