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

Watts Bar Community Action Panel

Last year, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) created a Community Action Panel (CAP) as its Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor neared the end of construction and prepared to request that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issue an operating license. Read More

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CSI Nuclear

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #51

Cops responding to a reported disturbance sometimes find an individual holding a smoking gun standing over a dead body oozing blood from bullet holes. Such crime cases are easy to solve even without a confession from the person holding the gun or a declaration from the corpse on the floor.

More often, cops arrive and can only establish that something bad has happened. In these cases, Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) are brought in to collect data and perform forensic analysis. In parallel, detectives interview people and investigate who had recent contact with the victims. Their goal is supplement the initial determination of what happened with solid insights as to how it happened and, more importantly, who did it. Read More

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When Open Door Policies at Nuclear Plants Go Awry

Fission Stories #184

Nuclear industry and NRC representatives often talk and write about their Open Door policies. For example, Doug Coe and June Cai, leaders of a task force formed to examine the NRC’s internal safety culture, briefed their Chairman and Commissioners on the agency’s Open Door policy for concerns raised by NRC staffers. And the owner of the Wolf Creek nuclear plant in Kansas recently informed the NRC about steps it had taken and planned to cultivate and maintain a safety conscious work environment in response to NRC’s concerns about reasons some workers had been terminated.

But not every Open Door is a good thing. Read More

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UCS Pen Pals

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #50

NEAT #29 explained how you can sign up to receive email notifications from the NRC when it issues things like press releases and reports on specific nuclear reactors. What I wasn’t keeping secret but had failed to mention was that you can also sign up to receive notifications when UCS posts new commentaries to our All Things Nuclear blog. Read More

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Fission Stories #183

The NRC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently issued a report on its audit of the agency’s communications security program. The NRC’s headquarters, regional and resident inspector offices have special equipment that is used to exchange classified information during routine and emergency conditions. Read More

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Supporting the Nuclear Front Line

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #49

NEAT #31 described the NRC’s resident inspectors assigned full-time to each operating nuclear plant as representing the first-line of defenders of nuclear safety. The commentary also cited results from a recent survey by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General revealing that only about half felt that they receive adequate support in performing their duties. Read More

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Millstone Unit 3 Reactor’s AFW Near-Miss (to be continued)

Fission Stories #182

Redundancy and diversity are two keys elements of nuclear power plant safety. The auxiliary feedwater (AFW) system for the Unit 3 reactor at the Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Connecticut illustrates these principles. Read More

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Accident Sequence Precursors for Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #48

I answer hundreds of questions each year from people living close to nuclear plants, reporters, staff members of local, state, and federal officials, and colleagues about a wide array of nuclear safety issues. The queries provide me useful insight about the topics of most interest to people. Read More

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Arkansas Nuclear One: Pictures of an Accident

Fission Stories #181

The drop of a heavy load at the Arkansas Nuclear One nuclear plant on March 31, 2013, was described in Fission Stories #139 based largely on the report on the accident by the NRC’s augmented inspection team. The NRC recently released hundreds of photographs taken of the heavy load, the damage it inflicted when dropped, and the extensive repairs undertaken at the plant. Read More

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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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