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An Electrical Cable Fire at the Quad Cities Nuclear Plant

Fission Stories #178

On March 22, 1975, a worker using a lit candle to check for air leaks in the room directly below the control room for the Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, Alabama accidentally ignited highly flammable material that had been used to seal openings in the wall where metal trays filled with electrical cables passed through. Read More

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Obama’s Nuclear Legacy

With two years left in office, President Obama still has time to shape his legacy. Given the challenges presented by a Republican-controlled Congress, further legislative success is unlikely. But that still leaves lots of opportunities to act without Congress, as we are witnessing with climate change and immigration. Read More

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The NRC and the Value of Life—Revisited

In February 2011, my colleague Ed Lyman wrote a blog post and a letter to the New York Times pointing out that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) assigns a MUCH lower value to human life when assessing the costs of accidents than other government agencies. Read More

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Nuclear Power Safety: Numbers and Context

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #44

73.

So what? Even if it is the best number as Dr. Sheldon Cooper claims on “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s just a number unless it is placed in context. Read More

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FOIAed Missile Defense Documents: Syring’s Huntsville Presentation

In mid-August, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Vice Admiral Syring gave a keynote speech at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, AL. By most accounts it was a frank and interesting talk. However, conference security personnel limited journalists’ ability to photograph the slides or record the talk, which led to controversy and an eventually an apology by the conference organizers. Read More

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Nuclear inSecurity

Fission Stories #177

 The NRC has long required an array of security features intended to lessen the likelihood of radiological sabotage at nuclear power plants. Gates, guns, and guards are among the methods used to protect against acts of malice. Read More

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Russia’s Small Maneuvering Satellites: Inspectors or ASATs?

In May, Russia announced it had launched three Russian communications satellites, Kosmos-2496, -2497, -2498. An additional object was along for the ride, orbiting a few kilometers away from the declared payloads. Without a declared name, this satellite was subsequently classified as debris by the U.S. Read More

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Simplified Drawings: Electrical Distribution Drawings

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #43

The primary objective of nuclear power plants is to generate electricity for use (i.e., purchase) by industrial and residential customers. Nuclear power plants consume large amounts of electricity themselves in pursuing this objective. Read More

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The 2014 USCC Report: Still Sloppy After All These Years

Last week The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) released yet another in a long line of annual reports with sensational claims about China’s military capabilities. Unfortunately, the USCC also continued to improperly source the information on which some of its claims are based.  Read More

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Independent Review of DOD’s Nuclear Enterprise: Money, Maintenance, and Morale

A newly released independent review of the Department of Defense (DOD) nuclear enterprise by two retired military leaders, Air Force General Larry D. Welch and Navy Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr., concludes—to no one’s surprise—that there are many problems. The review, which was completed in June but released just last week, was prompted by a series of embarrassing incidents over the past year or so including ICBM launch officers caught cheating on exams, a general relieved of command after drunkenness and inappropriate behavior on a trip to Russia, and the deputy chief of the U.S. Read More

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Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Mariotte

Individuals and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the country and Europe gathered at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC on November 10, 2014, to present a Lifetime Achievement Award Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). Read More

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Visualizing the UCS Satellite Database

Quartz created an interactive visualization using the UCS Satellite Database data called “The World Above Us: This is every active satellite orbiting the earth.” It shows all the satellites in the database, with their image size proportional to their launch mass, set in altitude bands. Read More

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NRC: Obstructing Justice?

Fission Stories #176

On June 23, 2014, NRC issued two yellow findings, the second most serious among the agency’s four color-coded sanctions, to the owner of the Arkansas Nuclear One plant for violations identified during a March 31, 2014, fatal accident. Read More

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Veterans Day in Asia

What we choose to remember and how we choose to remember it often describes the present more accurately than the past.

Asia today is rife with disputes about “history.” Japan’s ruling party is led by a cohort of politicians who are dissatisfied with how the “Great War in the Pacific” (as they call it) is remembered, particularly in Korea and China. Read More

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Simplified Drawings: Piping and Instrumentation Drawings (P&IDs)

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #42

Whenever possible, I like to accompany commentaries about nuclear plant issues with simplified drawings of the systems involved. For example, simplified drawings were featured in a NEAT post about the reactor core isolation cooling system and a Fission Stories post about a problem at Oyster Creek. Read More

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NRC and Safety Culture

Fission Stories #175

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a policy statement on June 14, 2011, stating how swell it would be if the owners of nuclear power plants established and maintained a positive safety culture. The NRC did not require that plant owners obtain and retain positive safety cultures, but expressed how important “a safety-first focus in nuclear work environments for public health and safety.”

Thus, the NRC is officially on record that positive safety cultures are swell and are important for public health and safety but has not taken any steps to require these swell and important things to be implemented. Read More

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An Update on Missile Defense Testing Plans

Inside Defense reports that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has scrapped its plans for the next Ground Based Midcourse missile defense (GMD) system intercept test. It had been planned for the coming spring; instead, MDA will perform a non-intercept flight test of the system, designated CTV-02+. Read More

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Nuclear Arms Control in China Today

Despite the recent proliferation of dire warnings about the security situation in East Asia, Chinese scientists and scholars continue working to provide Chinese policy-makers with constructive options for the region’s future. This is especially true when it comes to the future of China’s nuclear arsenal. Read More

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Routine Releases of Radioactivity from Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #41

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and the Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation (MATRR) conducted a workshop last November in Chattanooga, TN on the radioactivity monitoring they perform around the Browns Ferry and Sequoyah nuclear plants. Read More

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NRC Out of Compliance with FOIA Regulations

Fission Stories #174

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) manages the inherent dangers from nuclear power plant operation by establishing and enforcing (at least sometimes) federal safety regulations.

But this post is not about the NRC sending someone to nuclear jail. It’s about the NRC violating federal regulations and perhaps being on its own way to nuclear jail. Read More

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