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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Latest Posts

The End of MIRVs for U.S. ICBMs

The United States last week finished removing the last MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) from its Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); these missiles will now each carry a single warhead. The move was the fulfillment of a promise the Obama administration made in its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which stated that it would “enhance the stability of the nuclear balance by reducing the incentives for either side to strike first.”  Read More

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Jack Bauer: The NRC Needs You

Imagine the following scenario, not too different from the plot of the current season of the TV series “24” – but not that farfetched, either. The White House gets a call from a terrorist group that claims it has systematically diverted enough plutonium to make a crude nuclear bomb – perhaps 15 pounds – from a U.S. Read More

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Missile Defense Test Hits Target, But Not Off the Hook Yet

The Pentagon announced that the Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) test FTG-06b on Sunday was successful. 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. Read More

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Upcoming Missile Defense Test: Success or Failure, Time to get Serious

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has scheduled a long-delayed, $200-million missile defense test for this Sunday, June 22. It is just shy of a year since the last failed test of the problem-plagued Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) anti-missile system. Read More

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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. Read More

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Missiles and Morale

In response to the recent string of bad news for the ICBM force, the Air Force has announced that it will make a number of changes to try to alleviate some of the morale problems that have been plaguing the force. 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. Read More

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UCS-Brookings Panel on Missile Defense

The Union of Concerned Scientists co-hosted a panel on missile defense with the Brookings Institution last week: “U.S. Missile Defense Developments: How Far? How Fast? Read More

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Is China Rattling Nuclear Sabres over Shangri-la?

On 5 June 2014, “a media research entity that gathers, translates, and periodically analyzes Chinese-language media reporting,” posted a commentary on an editorial by Chu Shulong, a well-known Chinese scholar of international relations. The commentary claims the Tsinghua University professor calls “for China to maximally increase its nuclear deterrence against the U.S. 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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U.S. ICBM Force: Unprepared for a Terrorist Attack

U.S. ICBM forces were recently in the news again, and, as too often seems to be the case lately, the news was not good. In the past year, stories have come out about missile launch officers cheating on exams and taking drugs, a commander removed after drinking and inappropriate behavior on a trip to Russia, and another for passing counterfeit gambling chips. Read More

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Missile Defense: The “Phantom Menace” Remains a Phantom Menace

The history of the debate over missile defense is full of miscalculations about its possible benefits versus its risks and costs.

Probably much of that is due to the fact that strategic missile defense always sounds better after 30 seconds than it does after 30 minutes. Read More

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Single Failures and Nuclear Operator Training

Fission Stories #163

The nuclear reactor safety philosophy in the United States relies heavily on defense-in-depth. Basically, if one widget is needed for safety, at least two are provided. It’s not just a splendid notion—it’s the law. Read More

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Oodles of Nuclear Plant Data

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #30

The NRC’s website includes oodles (or scads, I confuse the two) of information about nuclear power reactor operating performance and events. Read More

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Nuclear Steam Cleaning at Oyster Creek

Fission Stories #162

The control rods in boiling water reactors (BWRs) are withdrawn from the reactor core to initiate the nuclear chain reaction and to raise the reactor’s power level. Conversely, the control rods are inserted into the reactor core to reduce the power level and, when necessary, stop the nuclear chain reaction. Read More

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NRC Pen Pals

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #29

Wikipedia defines pen pals as being people who regularly write each other. It’s wicked easy to become an NRC pen pal. And you can’t beat the price—free. Read More

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Obama in Asia: Words and Deeds

Just before President Obama departed for Asia the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report recommending the United States take steps to alter the perception that the current effort to increase U.S. engagement in Asia is “primarily a military strategy.” The Committee recommended the President increase attention to the “civilian components” of U.S. Read More

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Disposing of Excess Weapon Plutonium: The Perils and Promise of WIPP

Today, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released its long-awaited study of alternative options for disposition of excess weapons plutonium. The report confirms what I anticipated in a paper I presented in July 2013: the option of down-blending the plutonium with inert materials and emplacing it in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is feasible, has the least technical risk, and is (by far) the least expensive alternative. Read More

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