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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

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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Atta Agency, NRC

Fission Stories #165

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) protects the public by detecting declining safety levels at nuclear power plants and triggering remedial measures.

Perhaps the best part of the ROP is that it is widely recognized to be imperfect. Read More

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Fire When NOT Ready

On June 19, 2014, the NRC Chairman and Commissioners were briefed on the transition of several dozen nuclear power reactors to risk-informed, performance-based fire protection regulations. These regulations use the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard 805.
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Nuclear Power and Emergency Preparedness

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #32

As the accident at Fukushima Daiichi demonstrated for those who missed or forgot the prior demonstrations at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, a bad day at a nuclear power plants can have serious implications beyond the fences. Nuclear power plants normally send vast amounts of electricity out far and wide. Because they can also send out vast amounts of radioactive materials far and wide, emergency preparedness is not only a good idea—it’s the law. Read More

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Nuclear Inspections: When NDE Becomes NDE

Fission Stories #164

The NRC conducted a day-long meeting with industry representatives on June 4, 2013, to discuss plans to improve the reliability of inspections of nuclear plant components per ASME codes.

During this meeting, NRC staffer Stephen Cumblidge provided a presentation about non-destruction examinations (NDE) used to monitor the structural integrity of components. More specifically, Cumblidge covered incidents where NDE became NDE (non-detecting examinations). Read More

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NRC’s First-line Nuclear Defenders

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #31

There are at least two NRC inspectors assigned full-time to every nuclear power plant operating today in the United States. Called resident inspectors, these individuals are essentially the agency’s first-line of defenders of nuclear power plant safety. Read More

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