Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit (NEAT) Series

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UCS enjoys working on nuclear safety issues with citizens around the country. For the most part, these citizens are tackling these matters on their own time and on their own dime. They spend countless hours wading through AFJL (acronym-filled, jargon-laden) documents trying to understand what’s going on at the nuclear plant in their communities. It is a testament to their perseverance and commitment that they are able to separate wheat from the chaff to focus attention on real safety problems. One cannot count the number of safety problems their efforts have helped resolved.

Based on the assistance we have provided in the past, UCS is developing this series of guides or tools, call the Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit. Our intent is to help citizens decipher nukespeak to more quickly understand nuclear technology and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s processes for overseeing nuclear plant safety.

In this series, we will cover topics including event notifications, the NRC’s annual Information Digests, licensee event reports, technical specifications and their bases, David Okrent’s invaluable manuscript, monthly operating reports, the industry trends program, Samuel Walker’s Short History of the NRC, and the Updated Final Safety Analysis Reports (UFSARs).

We will post NEAT tips periodically in the Fission Stories slot on Tuesdays, starting this week:


Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit (NEAT) #1: NRC Information Digest

The NRC’s Information Digest is a very handy source of all kinds of facts. I refer to it almost every week because I cannot, or will not, memorize the agency’s docket numbers for reactors and must look them up when searching ADAMS for documents.

But the digest contains far more than a cheat sheet for reactor docket numbers.

The digest contains many interesting and useful graphics ranging from the agency’s organization chart to the numbers of emergencies declared at nuclear power plants to the nature of security components protecting nuclear facilities from radiological sabotage.

There are chapters describing the NRC, nuclear power in the United States and the world, types and locations of reactors in the U.S., and security measures against theft of nuclear materials and sabotage.

Appendices to the report provide extensive information about reactors operating in the U.S., reactors in the U.S. that have been permanently shut down, reactors that were canceled before going into operation, research and test reactors operating in the U.S., and facilities licensed by the NRC for dry storage of spent fuel.

And there’s a glossary where you can learn what DBDB and IRRS mean to prepare for nuclear trivial pursuit on game nights.

Not sold yet on the utility of the NRC’s Information Digest? Well, check out the promotional video on YouTube.

The digest can be a handy reference tool. For example, Appendix A can be used to answer questions like the following:

1)      What are the largest nuclear power reactor(s) in the U.S.?

2)      Which is the oldest nuclear power reactor operating in the U.S.?

3)      Which is the newest nuclear power reactor operating in the U.S.?

4)      How many operating U.S. reactors feature 2-loop Westinghouse reactors?

5)      How many operating U.S. reactors have Mark I containment designs?

6)      How many U.S. reactors are operating in NRC Region II?




The UCS Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit (NEAT) is a series of post intended to help citizens understand nuclear technology and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s processes for overseeing nuclear plant safety.

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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

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