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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

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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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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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