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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

Top NRC Sanctions

 Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #28

On October 27, 1979, the NRC announced it was fining the owner of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor $155,000 for violations of federal regulations that factored into the March 28, 1979, partial meltdown. The NRC also revised its regulations to enable it to levy harsher sanctions—that amount was widely viewed as scant penalty for a billion dollar accident. The NRC can now impose fines of over $100,000 for each violation and for each day that the violation lasted. Read More

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Blown Away at Callaway

Fission Stories #160

At 11:19 pm July 26, 2013, the Callaway nuclear plant in Missouri operated at 100 percent power when workers took isophase bus cooling fan TVMA04 out of service, replacing it with fan TVMA03. Workers swap these fans every month to equalize wear and tear on them.

Wait for it, wait for it—less than fifteen minutes later, the Callaway nuclear plant would be shut down and on fire. Read More

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Who Pays for the NRC?

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #27

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has at least two inspectors assigned full-time to each operating nuclear plant in the United States. The efforts by these resident inspectors are supplemented by inspectors from the agency’s regional and headquarters offices. Read More

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Three Wet (Nuclear) Pigs

Fission Stories #159

The fable about the big bad wolf and three little piggies was one of my favorite fables. In some ways, flooding plays the big bad wolf for nuclear power plants. Read More

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Post-installation and Post-maintenance Testing

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #26

NEAT #25 described regulatory requirements that seek to ensure that nuclear safety levels are not diminished by modifications to the plants or by revisions to procedures used by plant workers. This post covers complementary requirements that modifications and maintenance achieve proper outcomes. Read More

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Accident Canceled Due to Inclement Weather

Fission Stories #158

The owner of the Columbia Generating Station in Washington reported to the NRC on October 24, 2013, about a design problem affecting containment. Read More

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Nuclear Disaster American Style

Imagine that a large earthquake occurred March 11, 2011, on the Hosgri or Shoreline fault off the coast of California instead of offshore from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Studies have shown that such an earthquake could shake the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant more than it is designed to withstand. Read More

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The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2013

On March 11, 2011, I was on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to brief Congressional staffers on the inaugural issue in a planned series of reports on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and nuclear power plant safety. We had scheduled this event several weeks in advance, but an unplanned event in Japan occurred earlier that day kept many staffers in front of TV sets and internet monitors. That event—Fukushima—has not altered the direction or final destination of UCS’s nuclear power safety efforts. But it showed the need to move along this pathway a little faster. Read More

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NRC May I?

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #25

“Mother May I?” is a children’s game . “NRC May I?” is the grown-up version of this game played by owners in determining whether they can modify their nuclear plants or revise its procedures without first obtaining NRC’s permission.

Okay, it’s not called “NRC May I?” The NRC and the nuclear industry call it 10 CFR 50.59, but it is essentially “NRC May I?” Read More

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Nuclear Plants and Nuclear Excuses: This is Getting Old

Fission Stories #157

The NRC originally licenses a nuclear power reactor to operate for 40 years. The NRC renews an operating license for an additional 20 years. An operating license gives the owner the right to operate the reactor, provided a plethora of regulatory requirements are met. Many of these regulatory requirements seek to ensure safety margins are maintained throughout the full term of the operating license rather than just until next week or next month. Read More

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