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Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 22-012 March 16, 2022
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200

 
NRC Issues Findings from NIST Reactor Event Special Inspection
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has released its initial conclusions from its special inspection at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s non-power reactor in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The NRC launched the inspection in February 2021, a few days after an event during startup of the reactor damaged a reactor fuel element and released radioactive material. The agency issued an interim inspection report in April 2021.
 
The inspectors examined independent analyses of the radiation release and concluded that public health and safety was maintained – any potential dose to the public, while unlikely, would have been a very small fraction of regulatory limits. The inspectors also concluded that doses to the reactor facility staff during the event were well below regulatory limits.
 
During the inspection, NRC inspectors reviewed NIST’s records from the event, the facility staff’s response, NIST’s root cause analysis, proposed corrective actions and related documentation. They also interviewed NIST staff and management regarding the event and related matters. The inspection found seven apparent violations of NRC requirements, including five violations related to exceeding the fuel temperature safety limit and damaging a fuel element. Other apparent violations are related to emergency planning and equipment modification.
 
If finalized at their current level, the findings could result in a civil penalty. After reviewing the NRC inspection report, NIST can accept the NRC’s findings, provide additional information in writing or during a regulatory conference, or request alternative dispute resolution. The NRC will consider all available information before making a final determination and document the decision in publicly available correspondence. The report notes several items planned for NRC follow-up. These items will be assessed in supplemental NRC inspections and documented in subsequent inspection reports.
 
Since the event violated the fuel temperature safety limit, the NRC must formally approve any restart of the reactor, which NIST has requested. The NRC will only consider authorizing restart after the agency has completed reviewing the restart request and has determined that sufficient corrective actions have been implemented to ensure that the facility will be operated safely by the licensee. Increased NRC oversight of the NIST facility will continue after any restart has been authorized.
 

Guest opinion: Beware a Trojan Horse for nuclear bailouts

 
With the nuclear reactor crisis emerging in Ukraine as a backdrop, a bill -- HB 5589 -- has been introduced in the Illinois legislature that would remove a decades-old moratorium on constructing new nuclear reactors in Illinois.
 
This moratorium was enacted in the late-1980s to protect Illinois from becoming a de facto high-level radioactive waste dump. It simply says no more reactors will be built here until the federal government honors its legal obligation to build and operate a permanent disposal facility for the dangerous spent-fuel radioactive waste. This facility was supposed to open by 1997 but didn't. Current government estimates claim we won't have one before 2048. As a result, Illinois' 14 reactors (11 still operating) have created more than 11,000 tons of spent-reactor fuel with no place to go. It's presently stored at reactor sites.
 
Imagine Chicago authorizing the construction of the Sears Tower without bathrooms and you get a sense of the absurd license to pollute that the nuclear industry has been granted. Legislators wanted to make sure that Illinois would have to manage as little of this waste as possible, prior to permanent disposal.
 
While this explains the origin of this common-sense moratorium, current events demonstrate what a Trojan Horse for potential nuclear disaster on numerous fronts HB5589 represents.
 
First, what's the rush? No utility in its right mind wants to construct new reactors in the U.S. The only two under construction are $17 billion over budget, and five years behind schedule, showing how inept, sluggish and inefficient building reactors is.
 
Since 2916 ratepayers have bailed out Exelon (now Constellation) reactors to the tune of $3.04 billion because they've been "economically distressed" (i.e., money losers). Would new reactors be any less distressed? Guess who would be forced to bail them out. Adding more reactors to a money-losing market only worsens the situation.
 
Adding more reactors would mean adding more high-level radioactive waste with no disposal facility -- the very thing the moratorium was created to prevent. The First Rule of Holes applies here.
 
Adding more reactor market-share to an already uncompetitive, glutted energy market would crowd out market share for the renewables that the governor and legislature want built, indefinitely delaying the 100% clean-energy by 2050 goal in CEJA.
 
Lastly, any new reactors would be built and managed by a nuclear industry demonstrating a hefty track record for political corruption, extending beyond ComEd's $200 million guilty plea and Michael Madigan's indictment. Ohio and South Carolina nuclear projects have also resulted in FBI investigations, indictments and guilty pleas worth billions of dollars. Is this the business partner Illinois wants to create its Clean Energy Future?
 
HB5589 is clearly a Trojan Horse for something not being stated, attempting to solve a nonexistent problem. Worse, it would potentially put Illinois ratepayers in line for endless rate hikes once again and kill a renewable energy future.
 
• David Kraft, of Chicago, is a co-founder and executive director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service.
 
--
David A. Kraft, Director
NEIS is a member of EarthShare Illinois
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 22-012 March 16, 2022
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Issues Findings from NIST Reactor Event Special Inspection
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has released its initial conclusions from its special inspection at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s non-power reactor in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The NRC launched the inspection in February 2021, a few days after an event during startup of the reactor damaged a reactor fuel element and released radioactive material. The agency issued an interim inspection report in April 2021.
 
The inspectors examined independent analyses of the radiation release and concluded that public health and safety was maintained – any potential dose to the public, while unlikely, would have been a very small fraction of regulatory limits. The inspectors also concluded that doses to the reactor facility staff during the event were well below regulatory limits.
 
During the inspection, NRC inspectors reviewed NIST’s records from the event, the facility staff’s response, NIST’s root cause analysis, proposed corrective actions and related documentation. They also interviewed NIST staff and management regarding the event and related matters. The inspection found seven apparent violations of NRC requirements, including five violations related to exceeding the fuel temperature safety limit and damaging a fuel element. Other apparent violations are related to emergency planning and equipment modification.
 
If finalized at their current level, the findings could result in a civil penalty. After reviewing the NRC inspection report, NIST can accept the NRC’s findings, provide additional information in writing or during a regulatory conference, or request alternative dispute resolution. The NRC will consider all available information before making a final determination and document the decision in publicly available correspondence. The report notes several items planned for NRC follow-up. These items will be assessed in supplemental NRC inspections and documented in subsequent inspection reports.
 
Since the event violated the fuel temperature safety limit, the NRC must formally approve any restart of the reactor, which NIST has requested. The NRC will only consider authorizing restart after the agency has completed reviewing the restart request and has determined that sufficient corrective actions have been implemented to ensure that the facility will be operated safely by the licensee. Increased NRC oversight of the NIST facility will continue after any restart has been authorized.
 
SUBJECT:  Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 And 2 Regulatory Audit Plan In Support Of License Amendment Request To Revise Technical Specifications For Reactor Steam Dome Pressure Low Instrumentation Function Allowable Values (EPID L-2021-LLA-0062)  
 
ADAMS Accession No.  ML22056A012 
 
  
Using Web-based ADAMS, select “Advanced Search”  
Under “Property,” select “Accession Number”   
Under “Value,” enter the Accession Number   
Click Search  
SUBJECT:  Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Request for Withholding Information from Public Disclosure (EPID L-2022-LLA-0005)
 
ADAMS Accession No.  ML22041A441
 
 
Using Web-based ADAMS, select “Advanced Search” 
Under “Property,” select “Accession Number”  
Under “Value,” enter the Accession Number
Click Search 
Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Unit 1 - Post-Approval Site Inspection for License Renewal - Phase 2 Inspection Report 05000387/2022011
 
ADAMS Accession No.  ML22066B013
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 22-010 March 3, 2022
CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Rule for Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed rule to amend agency regulations for nuclear power plants transitioning from operations to decommissioning.
 
The proposed rule was published today in the Federal Register. Comments will be accepted for 75 days, through May 17. The proposed rule and related documents are also available on the NRC website, with information about upcoming public meetings to present the proposed rule and receive public comments. Two online public meetings will be held March 21 at 1 p.m., Eastern time and March 31 at 4 p.m., Eastern time. Additional public meetings may be added during the comment period.
 
Current NRC regulations establish safety requirements for the commercial operation of nuclear power plants. These regulations do not have separate requirements for the significantly lower safety hazards associated with a permanently shut down and defueled reactor undergoing decommissioning. As a result, the NRC has allowed incremental changes to various requirements, including emergency preparedness, through exemptions and license amendments. The proposed rule would implement specific regulatory requirements for different phases of the decommissioning process, consistent with the reduced risk.
 
The proposed regulation would incorporate lessons learned from plants that have recently transitioned to decommissioning and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory framework.
 
“NRC maintains its rigorous oversight of the decommissioning process from start to finish. said NRC Chairman Christopher T. Hanson. “Seeking and reviewing public comments will further inform the development of the rule to ensure it is protective of public health and safety.”
 
When the Commission approved the rule in November, Hanson emphasized the importance of public participation in the rulemaking process, noting that the agency sought public comment twice in the years the proposed rule was under development.
 
Comments can be submitted over the federal government’s rulemaking website, www.regulations.gov, using Docket ID NRC-2015-0070; sent by email to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov; or directly mailed to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.
 

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