Disaster by Design

Nuclear reactors use multiple safety systems to operate with low-risk. This series examines what happens when those systems fail—and explores what can be done to ensure better safety in the future.


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Latest Disaster by Design Posts

Nuclear Plant Emergency Preparedness – Re-HAB

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #38

Disaster by Design

It takes two to tango.

It takes a village to raise a child.

It takes between the tango and the child-rearing numbers to respond to a nuclear plant accident. Read more >

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Nuclear Plant Emergency Preparedness – Southern Exposure 2015

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #37

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #35 described some of the limitations in the emergency exercises conducted at least once every two years for U.S. nuclear power plants. The exercises are scheduled months in advance and last but a handful of hours. Real nuclear plant accidents are never scheduled in advance and take weeks to stabilize and years to recover. The value of the biennial exercises is diminished by these constraints. Read more >

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Nuclear Plant Emergency Preparedness: Failure to Communicate

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #36

Disaster by Design

Nuclear plant owners are required to develop plans for responding to accidents that describe actions to be taken by workers onsite as well as describing communications to local, state, and federal organizations so they can taken actions offsite. Among other things, the emergency plans detail when to activate the sirens that warn people in the community about an accident at the plant. Read more >

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Nuclear Plant Emergency Preparedness (or Pretending)

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #35

Disaster by Design

Fission Stories #58 described how control room operators prepared for a test to be conducted on the Unit 2 reactor at the Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut. Each operator who would touch control switches during the test was assigned a peer checker who would have a copy of the test procedure in hand to verify that the operator conducted every step as specified. The entire group of operators and peer checkers went into the simulator—a full-scale, computer-controlled mockup of the control room—two days before the test to rehearse it a few times. What could go wrong? Read more >

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Nuclear Plant Containment Failure: Robusted

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #34

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #30 through Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #33 described events where the containment structure around reactor pressures vessels failed or could fail. Read more >

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