Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Several news articles late this week have reported that Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may be in “cold shutdown” by mid-December. Although the reports are mostly accurate, there is a difference between the traditional “cold shutdown” of a nuclear plant and what is happening at Fukushima.

First, what is cold shutdown? The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines it as:

The term used to define a reactor coolant system at atmospheric pressure and at a temperature below 200 degrees Fahrenheit following a reactor cooldown.

In non-nuclear speak, it basically means the conditions within the nuclear reactor are such that it would be impossible for a chain reaction to occur. This term usually comes into play whenever a reactor is shut down periodically for refueling or for the final time prior to the long-term before it is decommissioned. When a reactor is in cold shutdown, the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) can be safely opened with great care and additional water is added to the cavity above the vessel for shielding to permit safe handling of the fuel for refueling (replacing depleted fuel elements) or defueling (removing the entire core).
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The industry on Dec. 1 urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to consider an integrated and flexible approach toward meeting the NRC’s Fukushima task force recommendations, arguing that this approach would result in faster, more efficient implementation of the most safety-significant recommendations. The industry advocated enhancing the post-9/11 concept of using portable equipment to address loss of all AC power and loss of ultimate heat sink from a variety of natural phenomena. This enhanced mitigation action—called a “diverse and flexible mitigation capability”—could be supplemented by regional response centers that could provide additional hardware and equipment to further extend coping capability should there be a longer-term loss of power or cooling capability.
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Radiation Protection Senior Engineer Martin Wright Conducts Ocean Sampling Near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

Radiation Protection Senior Engineer Martin Wright Conducts Ocean Sampling Near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

In the nuclear energy industry, our job is to produce electricity safely by protecting the health and safety of our plant workers, our environment and our communities. It is our responsibility to safely contain radiation. We do this by monitoring for radiation each day and abiding by strict federal safety limits set by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Martin Wright is a radiation protection senior engineer with 32 years of experience both in the U.S. Navy and the commercial nuclear power industry.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Fukushima Prefecture is stepping up its testing of rice crops, now that more radioactive cesium has been found in harvested samples. Government officials measured twice the allowable radiation limit in rice from farms in Date City, about 30 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The prefectural government is expanding radiation testing to more than 2,300 nearby farms.
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Indian Point Employee Inspects the Site's Battery Power Prior to Hurricane Irene

Indian Point Employee Inspects the Site's Battery Power Prior to Hurricane Irene

Thanks to intense storm preparations and layer upon layer of safety systems, 24 nuclear reactors at 15 facilities from North Carolina to New England were fully prepared when Hurricane Irene struck the Eastern Seaboard late this summer.

Operators of the 24 East Coast nuclear energy facilities began preparations several days in advance of the storm, in compliance with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) guidelines and the plants’ comprehensive emergency preparedness plans.

“We knew we needed to pre-staff our emergency facilities with a key team of responders,” said Mickey Chanda, emergency preparedness manager at Exelon’s Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, located near the New Jersey shoreline. “Together with senior site and corporate leadership, we developed a plan to bring in this team long before travel conditions became hazardous. We met with those employees two days in advance of the storm, explained to them that their only role was to be at their emergency facility and ready to spring to action if needed.”
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First