NRC proposes first post-Fukushima safety standards

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Feb. 17 proposed three rules to address safety-related issues following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

The rules, the first since the NRC established its task force to recommend safety enhancements at all U.S. nuclear plants, were proposed to commissioners in a memo from R.W. Borchardt, NRC executive director for Operations.

"Each of the orders is focused on enhancing defense in depth at nuclear power plants through increased capabilities to minimize the potential for core damage following a beyond design basis external event," the NRC said in the memo. “The staff considers that all nuclear power plants should be at the redefined level of adequate protection by Dec. 31, 2016, at the latest.”

Two orders from the NRC are proposed to be issued to all reactor licensees, including holders of active or deferred construction permits, and holders of combined licenses. These proposed orders say licensees must develop plans to address beyond design basis natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters and reasonable protection of equipment identified under such plans.

The NRC also proposed that all plants improve instrumentation in pools used to store spent fuel.

The third order from the NRC pertains to licensees operating boiling water reactors with GE (NYSE: GE) Mark I and Mark II containments, similar to the design of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. This order would address containment vent structures at all plants with these containment systems. The memo said the events at Fukushima Daiichi highlight the possibility that beyond-design-basis external events could challenge the prevention, mitigation and emergency preparedness defense-in-depth layers. Borchardt wrote that at Fukushima, limitations in time and unpredictable conditions associated with the accident significantly challenged the attempts by the responders to preclude core damage and containment failure. The operators were unable to successfully operate the containment venting system.

“Had additional backup or alternate sources of power been available to operate the containment venting system remotely, or had certain valves been more accessible for manual operation, the operators at Fukushima might have been able to depressurize the containment earlier,” the report said. “This, in turn, could have allowed operators to implement strategies using low pressure water sources. Thus, the events at Fukushima demonstrate that reliable hardened vents at BWR facilities with Mark I and Mark II containment designs are important to maintain core and containment cooling.”

To implement these rules in a timely manner, NRC said each order has been made immediately effective. The licensing approach for operating power reactors in all three orders is similar. The staff plans to prepare guidance for implementing the requirements of the orders by August 2012. Licensees will then be required, by February 28, 2013, to submit to the NRC for review an overall integrated plan including a description of how compliance with the requirements of the order will be achieved.

Read the full report from NRC here

Subscribe to Nuclear Power International magazine

Sponsored by FLSmidth

Related Articles

 North Anna nuclear power plant shuts down

North Anna nuclear power plant shuts down

Unit 1 of the North Anna nuclear power plant automatically tripped offline Feb. 26 as workers with Dominion (NYSE: D) were in the process of shutting the reactor down.

Second-oldest nuclear reactor in S. Korea OK to restart

South Korea’s nuclear watchdog approved a plan to restart a 679-MW nuclear power unit that was shut down after reaching its 30-year lifespan.

Follow Power Engineering on Twitter
Latest News
05/27 Henry Hub Average Natural Gas Spot Prices

05/27 Henry Hub Average Natural Gas Spot Prices

The Henry Hub is the pricing point for natural gas futures contracts traded on the New York M...

Siemens to provide the first H-class power plant technology in Mexico

Siemens has been awarded a contract to supply two SGT6-8000H gas turbines and two generators ...

EIA report: Clean Power Plan will lower CO2 emissions

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the power sector declined by 363 million metric tons betwee...

Nuclear decommissioning cooperation agreement signed

Vattenfall Europe Nuclear Energy (VENE) and E.ON Technologies (ETG) are cooperating on the de...

Weekly Coal Production Report

The Weekly Coal Production Report has been updated for the week ended May 23, 2015.

West Virginia PSC approves base rate hike for Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power

The West Virginia Public Service Commission on May 26 authorized the Appalachian Power Co. (A...

NRC staff official delegated to approve Watts Bar 2 operating license

Members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have voted to delegate authority to the di...

Duke Energy receives approval to build 5MW solar power plant in Orlando

Duke Energy Florida (NYSE: DUK) received approval to build, own and operate a 5-MW solar faci...

Power Engineering Current Issue

02/01/2015
Volume 119, Issue 2
1502PE-cover
Products Showcase
Dynamic Fluoride Ion cleaning DFIC of industrial natural gas turbines Hi-Tech Furnace Systems

Dynamic Fluoride Ion Cleaning of IGT Parts

The Dynamic Fluoride Ion Cleaning (DFIC) Process from Hi-Tech Furnace Systems is able to clean deep, narrow cracks of oxides by cycling between negative, atmospheric, and positive pressure.

Archived Articles

2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Power Industry Wire News

Xcite Energy Limited: First Quarter Results for the 3 Month Period Ended 31 March 2015

Xcite Energy Limited: First Quarter Results for the 3 Month Period Ended 31 March 2015

NW Natural Reports on 2014 Results at Annual Meeting of Shareholders

NW Natural Reports on 2014 Results at Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Trelleborg Senior Appointment Signals Industry Ambition

Trelleborg Senior Appointment Signals Industry Ambition

Planet Resource Recovery Completes PetroLuxus(TM) Application Training to Mexican Companies in the Oil Sector

Planet Resource Recovery Completes PetroLuxus(TM) Application Training to Mexican Compa...

Interpoll Laboratories, Inc. to Exhibit at 31st Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

Interpoll Laboratories, Inc. to Exhibit at 31st Annual International Fuel Ethanol Works...

Power Engineering

Article Archives for Power Engineering Magazine

Continuing Education

Professional Development Hours

To access a course listing associated to a specific topic listed below, click on the topic of choice from the list below.

Latest Energy Jobs

View more Job Listings >>