January 2012

The following story originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

There is an emerging consensus among U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff, the agency’s advisory committee, industry and key committees in Congress that an “all-hazards” approach offers the most promise for enhancing safety of nuclear energy facilities in a post-Fukushima, post 9/11 world and for expanding safety margin quickly. While the various parties to these discussions differ on certain technical aspects, and many details remain to be fleshed out, the apparent alignment at a conceptual level is a promising development as the post-Fukushima work moves forward on the commission’s aggressive schedule.

At a public meeting today of the NRC and industry steering committees on post-Fukushima actions, NEI Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Anthony Pietrangelo sought to clarify how the intent of the industry’s diverse and flexible coping capability, or FLEX, differs from the goal of such frameworks as severe accident management guidelines (SAMGs). “The purpose of establishing diverse, flexible coping capabilities is to prevent fuel damage, whereas SAMGs come into play after core damage,” Pietrangelo said.

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The industry will present a strategy to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today on how it plans to enhance safety at the nation’s 67 plant sites to better equip them for unexpected events. The strategy—known as the “diverse and flexible mitigation capability,” or FLEX—addresses many of the recommendations set forth by the NRC’s Fukushima task force and takes into account some of the early lessons from the Fukushima accident on the need to maintain key safety functions amid conditions where electricity may be lost, back-up equipment could be damaged, and several reactors may be involved.

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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • New safety regulations proposed for Japan’s nuclear reactors would limit the operation of the plants to 40 years, Japan’s nuclear minister, Goshi Hosono, said. The government also is revising seismic and tsunami safety standards for facilities and emergency preparedness directives for local communities. The government will submit the proposed legislation to Parliament later this month.
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Duke Energy's Seismic Qualification Expert John Richards

Duke Energy's Seismic Qualification Expert John Richards

John Richards has worked for Duke Energy (formerly Duke Power) since receiving his master’s in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1982. The majority of his 29 years in the nuclear energy industry have been dedicated to the seismic qualification field. Seismic qualification verifies that the equipment vital to safely shutting down a nuclear energy facility can safely operate during and/or after an earthquake. All U.S. nuclear energy facilities have specific seismic protection standards based on the historical earthquake activity in that area, plus an additional margin of safety.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First