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Simplified Drawings: Piping and Instrumentation Drawings (P&IDs)

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #42

Whenever possible, I like to accompany commentaries about nuclear plant issues with simplified drawings of the systems involved. For example, simplified drawings were featured in a NEAT post about the reactor core isolation cooling system and a Fission Stories post about a problem at Oyster Creek. Read More

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Nuclear Risk Assessments and Regulatory Bias

Fission Stories #171

The Fukushima disaster revealed many things: the unselfish sacrifices of workers who put duty ahead of their own safety and concern for their families, the vulnerability of reactor designs to severe challenges and common mode failures, the inadequacy of severe accident management guidelines, and the regulatory bias in risk assessments. Read More

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Three Mile Island Retrospective

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #38

The March 1979 partial meltdown of the core in the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear plant outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was the worst—so far—nuclear plant accident in United States history. Read More

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The Missile Defense Agency IG Report

The Pentagon’s Inspector General (IG) released a report yesterday about the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) missile defense system: “Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Quality Assurance and Reliability Assessment, Part A.”  It’s telling. Read More

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Rain Reboots at Calvert Cliffs

Fission Stories #170

During a winter storm on January 21, 2014, the Unit 2 reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland automatically shut down from full power. That event should not have cascaded to cause the Unit 1 reactor to also shut down, but it did. Read More

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Hierarchy of Nuclear Regulatory Requirements

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #37

NEAT #14 covered the NRC’s regulations and associated guidance documents. NEAT #5 covered the technical specifications, an appendix to the operating license issued by the NRC for each reactor. NEAT #37 explains the relationship between the regulatory requirements in these, and other, sources. Read More

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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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Price-Anderson and Nuclear Safety Good Buys (or Good Byes?)

Fission Stories #169

U.S. nuclear power plant owners are spending millions of dollars on measures to reduce vulnerabilities revealed during the March 2011 disaster at Fukushima in Japan. These are only latest in a series of costly safety upgrades. Read More

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RCIC Look See

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #36

The Reactor Core Isolation Cooling system is relied upon at most boiling water reactors (BWRs) to provide makeup water to the reactor vessel housing the nuclear core to compensate for water being boiled away when the normal makeup system is unavailable. Read More

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Missile Defense: Taking the Path of Least Resistance

Huntsville, Alabama is full today with champions of ballistic missile defense from the political, military, and industrial spheres, braving the south in August for the 2014 Space and Missile Defense Conference.  So far, I haven’t heard any reports about the specific next steps for the Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) missile defense system, although from other sources, it looks like the Pentagon might be taking June 22’s successful intercept test with a little too much exuberance. 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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