oystercreek


The “Race” to Resolve the Boiling Water Reactor Safety Limit Problem

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

General Electric (GE) informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in March 2005 that its computer analyses of a depressurization event for boiling water reactors (BWRs) non-conservatively assumed the transient would be terminated by the automatic trips of the main turbine and reactor on high water level in the reactor vessel. GE’s updated computer studies revealed that one of four BWR safety limits could be violated before another automatic response terminated the event.

Over the ensuring decade-plus, owners of 28 of the 34 BWRs operating in the US applied for and received the NRC’s permission to fix the problem. But it’s not clear why the NRC allowed this known safety problem, which could allow nuclear fuel to become damaged, to linger for so long or why the other six BWRs have yet to resolve the problem. UCS has asked the NRC’s Inspector General to look into why and how the NRC tolerated this safety problem affecting so many reactors for so long. Read more >

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Oyster Creek Reactor: Bad Nuclear Vibrations

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station near Forked River, New Jersey is the oldest nuclear power plant operating in the United States. It began operating in 1969 around the time Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were hiking the lunar landscape. 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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Nuclear Plant Containment Failure: Isolation Devices

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #32

Disaster by Design

Containment structures at nuclear power plants have multiple purposes. Containments protect vital safety equipment from damage caused from external events like high winds and the debris they can fling. And containments protect nearby communities against radiation released from reactor cores damaged during accidents. Read more >

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Nuclear Pipe Nightmares

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #4

Disaster by Design

If you had a dollar for every foot of pipe—or even just a quarter for every three inches of pipe—used in the nation’s nuclear power plants, you would probably not be reading this post. That chore would be delegated to one or more of your many minions.

Pipes at nuclear power plants carry cooling water to the reactor vessel and spent fuel pool, transport steam to the main turbine, provide hydrogen gas to cool the main generators, supply fuel and lubricating oil to the emergency diesel generators, maintain the fire sprinklers ready to extinguish fires, and numerous other vital functions. Given so many pipes, a success rate of 99.99%—remarkably similar to a failure rate of one broken pipe out of ten thousand pipes—would result in lots of piping failures. Read more >

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