Lochbaum and Lyman Address NAS on US Response to Fukushima

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is working on a study called “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security at US Nuclear Plants.” It is currently in the phase of collecting information through public meetings.

Dave Lochbaum and Ed Lyman were part of a small group of people who addressed the NAS panel yesterday. The slides from their presentation are available here.

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Details on Fukushima: Info from INPO

Last Friday the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) released a detailed timeline of events at Fukushima in the days following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, titled “Special Report on the Nuclear Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.”

The report doesn’t seem to break much new ground, but is a nice summary of what is known about those initial days.

INPO is a not-for-profit organization set up by the nuclear industry following recommendations of the Kemeny Commission that investigated the March 1979 Three Mile Island accident.


To Flee or Not to Flee, That Was the Question

During an event sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Monday, October 24, Dr. Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), defended his March 16 decision to recommend the evacuation of American citizens out to 50 miles from the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. It was not the first and likely not the last time the Chairman will have to defend his decision.

I won’t use the luxury of hindsight to judge whether his decision was right or wrong. But it did greatly lessen a years-old concern I’ve had regarding the NRC’s decision-making process.

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Feedback to the NRC on Fukushima Task Force Recommendations

Ed Lyman, UCS Senior Scientist, took part in a small meeting with the NRC Commissioners on September 14 to provide comments on the “short-term actions” recommended by the NRC Task Force that was set up following the Fukushima nuclear accident. A panel of experts provided comments on the Task Force recommendations:

  • William Leith, Earthquake Hazards Program Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Charles Pardee, Chairman, Industry Fukushima Response Steering Committee and Chief Operating Officer, Exelon Generation
  • Thomas Cochran, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Ed Lyman, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Sue Perkins-Grew, Director, Emergency Preparedness, Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Patrick Mulligan, State of New Jersey and Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee

Ed’s presentation can be found here.

Following comments by the panelists, the NRC staff made a presentation to the Commissioners on these short term actions.


NRC’s Path After Fukushima: Still Lined with Pitfalls

On Friday, August 19, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released its initial response to the recommendations of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force. The NRC did not address the substance of the Task Force recommendations, but only the process for further evaluating them. The NRC’s response, in the form of a “Staff Requirements Memorandum” (SRM), represents an attempt at reconciling the often differing views of NRC Commissioners.

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UCS’s Take on NRC’s Post-Fukushima Recommendations

Today we released our critique of key recommendations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) near-term task force in response to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident earlier this year.

Three of the five NRC commissioners have now voted to not put its own task force recommendations on the fast track, arguing that the NRC needs more information to proceed.

However, if the NRC balks at implementing new safeguards in a reasonable time frame on the grounds that it doesn’t have enough information about what happened in Japan, then the agency also doesn’t have enough information to relicense operating reactors or license new ones. If the NRC commissioners need more time to sort out the lessons of Fukushima, there should be a moratorium on relicensing old reactors and licensing new ones until they do.

On July 13, we released our own set of recommendations to the NRC, taking a much broader approach.


NRC Study Shows the Serious Consequences of a Fukushima- Type Accident in the US

UCS has obtained a preliminary analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of a hypothetical severe accident at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania very similar to the one at Fukushima Daiichi. The NRC analysis finds that—even assuming early evacuation of the area—the accident could cause nearly 1,000 cancer deaths among the population within 50 miles of the plant, on average. Under unfavorable weather conditions, that number could be much higher.

The October 2010 draft report, which UCS obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), contains some of the results of a long-delayed NRC study known as the State of the Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) project. The NRC initiated SOARCA in 2005 to provide “updated and more realistic analyses of severe reactor accidents.”

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Video: What Happened at Fukushima

On June 16, Dave Lochbaum spoke at the Boston Public Library as part of an event titled What Happened at Fukushima - Why It Can Happen Here. The event was sponsored by the group C-10.

Also speaking at the event were Arnie Gundersen, an engineer who—like Dave—worked at nuclear plants for many years, and Richard Clapp, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Click on the image above to see a video of the presentations by Dave and Arnie.


Transcript of Press Briefing on UCS Nuclear Power Recommendations

On Wednesday, we released our report US.Nuclear Power After Fukushima: Common-Sense Recommendations for Safety and Security, which details our top recommendations for steps the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should take to improve safety and security at US reactors.

An audio recording of the presentations by Dave Lochbaum and Ed Lyman, and a transcript of the full briefing, including Q&A with reporters, are now available.


UCS Recommendations for Nuclear Power Safety and Security After Fukushima

Following the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in Japan, we began studying what lessons the US should learn from the event and developing a set of recommendations that would increase the safety and security of U.S. nuclear plants.

Today we released US.Nuclear Power After Fukushima: Common-Sense Recommendations for Safety and Security, which details our 23 recommendations for steps the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should take. Many of the recommendations address problems that have been evident for decades, while others address problems brought to light during the Japanese crisis.

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