Dave Lochbaum

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

Emergency Planning for Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #47

The NRC’s regulations include requirements intended to prevent serious nuclear plant accidents from occurring and to mitigate one should it happen. Because these measures, even if fully and faithfully implemented, reduce rather than eliminate the chances of a serious accident, the NRC’s regulations also include requirements to protect the public from radioactivity released during an accident. Read More

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TEPCO’s Fukushima Folly

Fission Stories #180

In early August 2014, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that its latest analysis revealed the meltdown of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi was worse than previously estimated. Read More

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NRC’s Transparency: Glasnost or Half-Glasnost?

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #46

The NRC’s words about openness:

Nuclear regulation is the public’s business, and it must be transacted publicly and candidly. The public must be informed about and have the opportunity to participate in the regulatory processes as required by law. Open channels of communication must be maintained with Congress, other government agencies, licensees, and the public, as well as with the international nuclear community.

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Turkey Point Nuclear Plant in Hot Water

Fission Stories #179

Earlier this summer, the owner of the Turkey Point nuclear plant in Florida requested and the NRC approved a change in the maximum limit on cooling water used by plant. For years, the plant had operated with the limit at 100°F. The plant could only continue operating for a few hours when this limit was exceeded. But power uprates and global warming conspired to cause problems with this limit. Read More

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UCS’s Standard for Nuclear Power Safety

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #45

Past as Prologue

Bob Pollard joined the Union of Concerned Scientists in early 1976 and served as the organization’s primary voice on nuclear power plant safety for nearly 20 years before retiring in January 1996. I joined UCS in the fall of 1996 to take over Bob’s role. My task was made easier by my also taking over Bob’s files. He left behind a legacy of steadfast commitment to nuclear safety—he also left behind five four-drawer file cabinets of the paper trails covered by UCS’s efforts spanning two decades. I tried to set aside about an hour each workday morning to re-trace those many steps. It took me nearly a year and a half to complete the review, but that time investment produced many dividends over the ensuing years. Read More

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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. These cables connected switches, gauges, indicators, alarms, and other devices in the control room above to equipment throughout the plant. The fire burned for over six hours. As insulation burned away, exposed cables touched each other or the metal trays and shorted out. The extensive cable damage disabled all of the emergency core cooling systems for the Unit 1 reactor and most of these systems on Unit 2. Only heroic and ad hoc actions by workers prevented two core meltdowns. Read More

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Nuclear Power Safety: Numbers and Context

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #44


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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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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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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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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