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The NRC and Natural Hazards to Nuclear Plants

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Today the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists posted my op-ed about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approach to re-evaluating the hazards to nuclear plants from natural catastrophes like earthquakes and floods in light of what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

I make the point that many U.S. nuclear plants could experience disasters more severe than those they were designed to withstand, and argue that the NRC should require plants to be hardened against these more severe events.

 

Posted in: Nuclear Power Safety Tags: , , ,

About the author: Dr. Lyman received his PhD in physics from Cornell University in 1992. He was a postdoctoral research scientist at Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, and then served as Scientific Director and President of the Nuclear Control Institute. He joined UCS in 2003. He is an active member of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management and has served on expert panels of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. His research focuses on security issues associated with the management of nuclear materials and the operation of nuclear power plants, particularly with respect to reprocessing and civil plutonium. Areas of expertise: Nuclear terrorism, proliferation risks of nuclear power, nuclear weapons policy

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  • Joyce Agresta

    “I make the point that many U.S. nuclear plants could experience disasters more severe than those they were designed to withstand, and argue that the NRC should require plants to be hardened against these more severe events.”

    Good point of which is obvious to most everyone in the world today. Only a fool would argue that.
    Also obvious and well documented is the fact that many of the Nuclear Reactors in The US where not built as designed… Some even have what are now considered design flaws. We see several such disclosures each year on the NRC website.
    A good example of many is the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactor Power Plant.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diablo_Canyon_Power_Plant :
    In September 1981, PG&E discovered that a single set of blueprints was used for these structural supports; workers were supposed to have reversed the plans when switching to the second reactor, but did not. According to Charles Perrow, the result of the error was that “many parts were needlessly reinforced, while others, which should have been strengthened, were left untouched.” Nonetheless, on March 19, 1982 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided not to review its 1978 decision approving the plant’s safety, despite these and other design errors.

    Actually this was noticed and reported during construction of the plant. Covered up with creative coercion and all.

    Anyhow why are these discussion based on the false premise that these Nuclear Reactor power plants where built as designed when its documented all over the place they where not. Who would argue this?