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

Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 2 – Grand Gulf’s Mighty Pen

Fission Stories #187

The previous Fission Stories commentary described a problem with new nuclear fuel encountered at Browns Ferry in the early 1980s. This commentary sustains that theme by describing another problem with new nuclear fuel, this time at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi. Read More

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Nuclear Safety Imperfection

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #53

NEAT #52 acknowledged the stellar results achieved by Catawba Unit 2, LaSalle Unit 1, and South Texas Project Unit 1 by remaining in Column 1 of the NRC’s Action Matrix for every one of the ROP’s first 56 quarters. They were the only three reactors in the nation to compile perfect attendance records.

This blog post discusses reactors that spent little time in Column 1 over that same 14-year period. Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 1 – Browns Ferry’s Midnight Ride

Fission Stories #186

Much has been written about the perils of nuclear fuel when it resides in the core of a nuclear power reactor and later when it is spent fuel stored here, there and everywhere. But new nuclear fuel has proven problematic at times, too. This is the first of a quartet of stories about new fuel problems. Read More

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Nuclear Safety Perfection

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #52


It’s the sum of six consecutive prime numbers (3, 5, 7, 11, 13, and 17). Read More

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Nuclear Plant Aging

Fission Stories #185

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) originally licensed nuclear power reactors to operate for up to 40 years. Beginning in 2000, the NRC relicensed nuclear power reactors to operate for up to an additional 20 years. And there has been interest within the nuclear industry about for relicensing for yet another 20 years. Read More

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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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