NEI Updates October 2012

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The operators of U.S. nuclear energy facilities last week approved a contract to develop two regional response centers that will store emergency equipment for rapid delivery in case of an extreme event at any nuclear plant. “The regional response centers will further increase the industry’s preparedness for severe challenges, regardless of their causes,” said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s chief nuclear officer. “This is another example of the industry’s commitment to learn the lessons from the Fukushima accident in Japan and apply those lessons to enhance safety across the U.S. nuclear energy industry.” The centers will be located near Memphis and Phoenix and will be managed by Pooled Equipment Inventory Co.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • AREVA has announced a contract to provide all 23 of Japan’s pressurized water reactors with passive autocatalytic recombiners, which will help prevent hydrogen from building up in emergency situations. The company said it will install more than 100 of the devices, which work constantly to oxidize traces of hydrogen into steam catalytically. The devices are not dependent on external power or operator intervention. AREVA says it has installed the recombiners in more than 140 plants worldwide. No Japanese facilities currently have the equipment. At the Fukushima Daiichi facility last year, hydrogen buildup from the oxidation of zirconium cladding in steam led to explosions that caused extensive damage.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The five commissioners heading Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) unanimously agreed last week to formulate new severe accident regulations for nuclear energy facilities, in line with the country’s atomic energy law that parliament amended in June. Accident scenarios to be covered will include terrorist actions as well as earthquakes and tsunamis. The NRA said draft regulations will be available for public comment March 2013 and are to be finalized by July. Two sets of final regulations are to be drawn up, to include plant system design considerations and severe accident management procedures.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The post-Fukushima response steering committees of the nuclear energy industry and Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed accomplishments and work in progress during a joint meeting last week. Nuclear energy industry representatives highlighted completion of inspections for potential flooding and seismic activity, validation of procedures and equipment readiness for loss of off-site electrical power, purchase of additional portable safety equipment, and selection of a vendor for a regional response center. Work in progress includes establishing guidance and conducting further inspections for flooding and seismic assessments and integrating emergency operating procedures and severe accident management guidelines.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • A new study by the Electric Power Research Institute that examines options for minimizing the release of radioactive materials in a severe nuclear accident says that a combination of strategies would be much more effective than depending on any single measure. In particular, EPRI says that combining containment sprays or immersion of damaged fuel with a specifically designed vent that can reliably open and close at appropriate times would provide a more than 1,000-fold reduction in the amount of fission products released. Adding low-efficiency filters to vents can further reduce the release of fission product particles, although the report recommends further research to evaluate the efficacy of filter designs. EPRI acknowledges that “the best way to avoid radiological release and potential land contamination is to prevent an accident from occurring by improving and augmenting the strategies for preventing core damage,” a strategy in line with the industry’s “FLEX” approach.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First