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China in Focus #17: Serving the People

People’s Park rests within a maze of tall buildings in central Shanghai. At the tale end of a week-long national holiday, whose only U.S. equivalent might be Christmas, a human sea shopped along the banks of Nanjing Road, which was all dressed up in red regalia to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the People’s Republic. Read More

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Exelon’s Full Fixes

Fission Stories #168

Fission Stories #111 described an electrical design problem that triggered an event on the Unit 2 reactor at the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois. This post is what radio broadcaster Paul Harvey called “the rest of the story.” Read More

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Senate’s Good Work on Nuclear Weapons All for Naught?

As has happened far too often in recent years, the appropriations process in Congress is a shambles. There is no chance that any of the thirteen annual bills that fund the U.S. government will be signed into law by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th. Read More

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No Undue Risk

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #35

The NRC published “No Undue Risk: Regulating the Safety of Operating Nuclear Power Plants” in June 2014. This 22-page report describes some of the agency’s better accomplishments (e.g., the maintenance rule and the reactor oversight process) and some of its stumbles (the Three Mile Island accident, the Davis-Besse close call, the severe accident policy statement, the license renewal rule, and fire safety). Read More

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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. Read More

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Evolving Chinese Views on U.S. National Missile Defense

Chinese perceptions of the U.S. national missile defense program are changing.  Initial concerns about a technological arms race China could not win are gradually giving way to less alarming Chinese assessments. Most Chinese observers do not view the capabilities of existing U.S. 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. Read More

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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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Pentagon Changes Its Assessment of Iran’s ICBM Prospects

Inside Defense reports that the Pentagon’s assessment of the Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat has changed substantially for the first time since 1999. The new assessment appears in the unclassified executive summary of the Pentagon’s January 2014 Annual Report on Military Power of Iran. 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. Read More

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Comments on the Ground-Based Midcourse Missile Defense Test Record

The Department of Defense states that Sunday’s test was the 65th successful hit-to-kill intercept out of 81 tries since 2001 for the Ballistic Missile Defense System. This statistic includes not only the Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) missile defense system tested this weekend, but all ranges of interceptors, including the Patriot system which targets short range missiles. 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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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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