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Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Safety Dashbored

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Who says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not have a delightful sense of humor?

Not me. Not anymore. Not after stumbling across the NRC’s Generic Issues Dashboard on its website.

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Nuclear Renaissance–Nuclear Requiem

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

There was considerable discussion a decade or so ago about the purported Nuclear Renaissance. New reactors were proposed almost everywhere but Delaware: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Read more >

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Nuclear Plant Containment Failure: Potpourri

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #33

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #30 discussed how containment structures can be adversely affected by high internal pressure experienced during an accident. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #31 discussed how containments can be adversely affected by damage/degradation that existed even before an accident started. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #32 covered times when isolation devices (e.g. doors, valves, dampers) failures created potential pathways for radioactivity to escape containment. This commentary follows that theme, describing a hodge-podge of ways containment performance capability was impaired. Read more >

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Problems with “Infrequently Performed Tests” at Nuclear Plants

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #19

Disaster by Design

IPTE in the nuclear industry stands for Infrequently Performed Tests or Evolutions. It describes the measures applied before undertaking planned activities that are not routinely conducted. When tasks are performed on a daily or weekly basis, workers develop proficiencies that are maintained by habit. But when workers have not performed a task in quite a while, it is possible that their awareness of the proper steps has diminished, or that the proper steps have been revised.

If familiarity breeds contempt, lack of familiarity breeds confusion. And confusion at the controls of a nuclear power plant is seldom helpful. Read more >

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Fire at the Nuclear Plant

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #2

Disaster by Design

The March 1975 near-miss at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama involved a fire in the cable spreading room. This room is located directly below the control room for the Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors. Electrical cables from switches, gauges, and alarms on the control panels are routed through the floor into the cable spreading room where they radiate out to equipment throughout the plant. The fire burned for over six hours, destroying thousands of electrical cables. All of the emergency core cooling systems were disabled for the Unit 1 reactor and the majority of those safety systems were disabled for the Unit 2 reactor. Only heroic actions by workers prevented core meltdowns that fateful day. Read more >

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