Dave Lochbaum

Director, Nuclear Safety Project

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Mr. Lochbaum received a BS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1979 and worked as a nuclear engineer in nuclear power plants for 17 years. In 1992, he and a colleague identified a safety problem in a plant where they were working. When their concerns were ignored by the plant manager, the utility, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), they took the issue to Congress. The problem was eventually corrected at the original plant and at plants across the country. Lochbaum joined UCS in 1996 to work on nuclear power safety. He spent a year in 2009-10 working at the NRC Training Center in Tennessee. Areas of expertise: Nuclear power safety, nuclear technology and plant design, regulatory oversight, plant license renewal and decommissioning

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Nuclear Plant Containment Failure: Overpressure

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #30

Disaster by Design

Defense-in-depth is a primary element of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approach to the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants. Many of the NRC’s regulatory requirements seek to reduce the chances of reactor core meltdowns to as low as achievable levels. But recognizing that the consequences of low probability events like meltdowns, sometimes called “black swans,” can be disastrous, the NRC also has regulatory requirements seeking to reduce the chances that radioactivity gets released in harmful amounts during an accident. This commentary describes the primary containments used in pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs) and how too much pressure can cause containment to fail. Read more >

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Spent Fuel Damage: Pool Criticality Accident

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #29

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #26 described a progression leading to overheating and damage to a reactor core, often labeled a meltdown. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #27 described the damage to a reactor core that can result from reactivity excursions. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #28 and #29 mirror those commentaries by describing how irradiated fuel stored in spent fuel pools can experience damage from overheating and reactivity excursions. Read more >

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Nuclear Spent Fuel Damage: Pool Accident

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #28

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #26 described a progression leading to meltdown of a reactor core. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #27 described damage resulting from reactivity excursions.

This commentary describes a progression leading to overheating damage of fuel in a spent fuel pool. Next week’s post will describe how fuel in a spent fuel pool could experience a reactivity excursion. Read more >

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Reactor Core Damage: Power Excursion

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #27

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #26 described the accident progression resulting in meltdown of a reactor core. Such scenarios factored in the accidents at Fermi Unit 1 in October 1966, Three Mile Island Unit 2 in March 1979, and Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 2, and 3 in March 2011. Read more >

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Kudos to Cuomo: New York Helps Prevent Degraded Bolts from Leading to Nuclear Disaster

Workers recently discovered that more than a quarter of the bolts holding the core former and core baffle plates together inside the Unit 2 reactor vessel at Indian Point in Buchanan, New York were degraded and required replacement. The bolts had not been routinely inspected since the reactor began operating in the mid-1970s. And the bolts may not have been inspected this year but for the efforts of the state of New York. Read more >

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