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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

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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No Undue Risk

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #35

The NRC published “No Undue Risk: Regulating the Safety of Operating Nuclear Power Plants” in June 2014. This 22-page report describes some of the agency’s better accomplishments (e.g., the maintenance rule and the reactor oversight process) and some of its stumbles (the Three Mile Island accident, the Davis-Besse close call, the severe accident policy statement, the license renewal rule, and fire safety). Read More

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Assault on St. Lucie Nuclear Plant

Fission Stories #167

Prior to 9/11, federal regulations required U.S. nuclear power plants to be defended against radiological sabotage carried out by a small group of outside attackers aided by one insider. After 9/11, the NRC revised the regulations to required defending against a slightly larger group of outside attackers aided by one insider. At least once every three years, the NRC monitors a simulated attack on each nuclear plant by mock intruders to judge how adequately the security measures are implemented. Read More

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Initial Comments on NAS’s Report “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety of U.S. Nuclear Plants”

On July 24, 2014, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released the final pre-publication report  by a committee tasked with reviewing the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan and its lessons for improving the safety of U.S. reactors. With appendices, the report is over 350 pages long. My colleague Ed Lyman and I have done an early review of the report and have these initial comments, likely to be supplemented as we probe this extensive report further. Read More

Categories: Nuclear Power Safety  

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Nuclear Plant Safety’s 3 R’s

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #34

In education, the three R’s are reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic.

In nuclear plant safety, the three R’s are reactivity, residual heat, and radioactive material. Read More

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Clinton Nuclear Plant in Hot Water

Fission Stories #166

Workers were restarting the Clinton nuclear power plant in Illinois on October 28, 2013, following its refueling outage. It did not take them long to literally get into hot water. Read More

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NRC Region I is Number 1

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #33

On May 13, 2014, I made a presentation on Fukushima’s regulatory impacts (click here for pdf version or ppt version)  at the two-day annual seminar conducted by NRC Region I in King of Prussia, PA. I was the only external stakeholder invited to present during the seminar.

I opened my presentation by remarking that I could confidently state that Region I ranks among the top five performing NRC regional staffs in the entire United States. (There are only four NRC regional offices, a fact underlying my confidence.) Read More

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