Vermont Press Releases

Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks action on Japan Task Force recommendations


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its staff to complete several actions within the next 45 days in response to recommendations from the agency’s Near-Term Task Force examination of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident in Japan.

“I am pleased to see the Commission moving the agency forward on these important issues, and I look forward to receiving additional input from our technical experts, the industry and the public as we proceed,” said NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko. “The plan we’ve established will require a dedicated effort by our staff and stakeholders, and will require a continued commitment by the Commission to see that these recommendations are promptly addressed.”

The Commission established the Task Force to examine the agency’s regulatory requirements, programs, processes, and implementation in light of information from the accident following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Task Force presented its report to the Commission on July 12, proposing 12 recommendations on improving several safety-related areas. The recommendations covered areas including loss of electrical power, earthquakes, flooding, spent fuel pools, venting and preparedness.

The Commission has asked the staff for a series of papers in the next two months covering various aspects of the Task Force’s work. These include:

• The staff has until Sept. 9 to produce a paper outlining which of the Task Force’s recommendations 2 - 12, either in part or in whole, the staff believes should be implemented without unnecessary delay. The 21-day effort will include a public dialogue on the staff’s proposal, and the staff expects to announce a public
meeting in the next few days.

• The staff has until Oct. 3 to produce a paper which prioritizes Task Force recommendations 2 - 12. This paper is expected to lay out all agency actions to be taken in responding to lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident. The
paper will also lay out a schedule for interacting with the public, other stakeholders and the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS).

• The staff has 18 months to consider the Task Force’s first and broadest recommendation, a call for revising the NRC’s regulatory approach. The Task Force felt the NRC should find a better balance between the use of risk analysis to
inform regulation and the “defense in depth” concept that underlies many of the agency’s original requirements. Doing so would create a regulatory framework that is logical, systematic, coherent and more easily understood. The paper is
expected to provide options, including a recommended course of action, in dealing with the Task Force’s first recommendation.

The Commission’s direction to the staff and the Task Force Report are both available on the NRC’s website.

Staff Requirements Memorandum are as follows.

· Developing a coherent regulatory framework for adequate protection that appropriately balances defense-in-depth and risk considerations,”

· Requiring plants to reevaluate and upgrade as necessary their design-basis seismic and flooding protection of structures, systems and components for each operating reactor and reconfirm that design basis every 10 years;

· Strengthening Station Black Out (SBO) mitigation capability for existing and new reactors for design-basis and beyond-design-basis natural events – such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes or tsunamis – with a rule to set minimum coping time without offsite or onsite AC power at 8 hours; establishing equipment, procedures and training to keep the core and spent fuel pool cool at least 72 hours; and preplanning and pre-staging offsite resources to be delivered to the site to support uninterrupted core and pool cooling and coolant system and containment integrity as needed;

· Requiring that facility emergency plans address prolonged station blackouts and events involving multiple reactors;

· Requiring additional instrumentation and seismically protected systems to provide additional cooling water to spent fuel pools if necessary; and requiring at least one system of electrical power to operate spent fuel pool instrumentation and pumps at all times;

· Requiring reliable hardened vent designs in boiling water reactors (BWRs) with Mark I and Mark II containments;

· Strengthening and integrating onsite emergency response capabilities such as emergency operating procedures, severe accident management guidelines and extensive damage mitigation guidelines;

· Identifying, as part of the longer term review, insights about hydrogen control and mitigation inside containment or in other buildings as more is learned about the Fukushima accident;

· Evaluating, as part of the longer term review, potential enhancements to prevent or mitigate seismically induced fires or floods;

· Pursuing, as part of the longer term review, additional emergency preparedness topics related to SBO and multiunit events;

· Pursuing, as part of the longer term review, emergency preparedness topics on decision making, radiation monitoring and public education;

· Strengthened regulatory oversight of plant safety performance – the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process by which plants are monitored on a daily basis – by focusing more attention on defense-in-depth requirements.

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Anne Galloway

About Anne

Anne Galloway is the founder and editor-at-large of VTDigger. Galloway founded VTDigger in 2009 after she was laid off from her position as Sunday editor of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. VTDigger has grown from a $16,000 a year nonprofit with no employees to a $2.8 million nonprofit daily news operation with a staff of 32. In 2017, Galloway was a finalist for the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics, the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award and the Investigative Reporters and Editors FOIA Award for her investigation into allegations of foreign investor fraud at Jay Peak Resort.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Anne on Twitter @GallowayVTD


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