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Dave Lochbaum

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About the author: 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

You Can’t Close a Safe, Economical Nuclear Reactor

Senator David Vitter recently expressed his view that groups like the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Union of Concerned Scientists had teamed up with Senator Barbara Boxer to shut down the nation’s nuclear power plants one at a time. Read More

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Nuclear Cops with Badges, Guns and Handcuffs

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #39

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) nuclear safety oversight efforts consist of three elements: inspection, assessment, and enforcement. Most of the time, findings by NRC’s inspectors and/or adverse trends from performance indicators result in the agency taking enforcement action in the form of supplemental inspections. In other words, more NRC inspectors arrive at the nuclear plant to determine whether the original problems have been properly fixed and whether additional problems exist. Read More

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Nuclear Risk Assessments and Regulatory Bias

Fission Stories #171

The Fukushima disaster revealed many things: the unselfish sacrifices of workers who put duty ahead of their own safety and concern for their families, the vulnerability of reactor designs to severe challenges and common mode failures, the inadequacy of severe accident management guidelines, and the regulatory bias in risk assessments. This post speaks to this last revelation. Read More

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Three Mile Island Retrospective

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #38

The March 1979 partial meltdown of the core in the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear plant outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was the worst—so far—nuclear plant accident in United States history. Read More

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Rain Reboots at Calvert Cliffs

Fission Stories #170

During a winter storm on January 21, 2014, the Unit 2 reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland automatically shut down from full power. That event should not have cascaded to cause the Unit 1 reactor to also shut down, but it did. Read More

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Hierarchy of Nuclear Regulatory Requirements

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #37

NEAT #14 covered the NRC’s regulations and associated guidance documents. NEAT #5 covered the technical specifications, an appendix to the operating license issued by the NRC for each reactor. NEAT #37 explains the relationship between the regulatory requirements in these, and other, sources. Read More

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Diablo Canyon: NRC Insider’s Dissent

Several recent news articles covered a report filed by Dr. Michael Peck, an NRC engineer, within his agency. The Friends of the Earth (FOE) obtained the non-public report and posted it online. Read More

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Price-Anderson and Nuclear Safety Good Buys (or Good Byes?)

Fission Stories #169

U.S. nuclear power plant owners are spending millions of dollars on measures to reduce vulnerabilities revealed during the March 2011 disaster at Fukushima in Japan. These are only latest in a series of costly safety upgrades. Read More

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RCIC Look See

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #36

The Reactor Core Isolation Cooling system is relied upon at most boiling water reactors (BWRs) to provide makeup water to the reactor vessel housing the nuclear core to compensate for water being boiled away when the normal makeup system is unavailable. Abbreviated as RCIC and pronounced like “rick see,” this system likely used up its 15 minutes of fame during the Fukushima accident. Read More

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Exelon’s Full Fixes

Fission Stories #168

Fission Stories #111 described an electrical design problem that triggered an event on the Unit 2 reactor at the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois. This post is what radio broadcaster Paul Harvey called “the rest of the story.” Read More

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