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Workers evacuated from area of Carlsbad nuclear waste repository after 'abnormal event'
 
Adrian Hedden
Carlsbad Current-Argus, Sunday, April 10, 2022
 
An incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad led to the evacuation of workers Saturday night from an area of the facility where waste is prepared for disposal.

The incident was reported at about 8:20 p.m. in the waste handling building.

As a drum of waste was being processed, liquid was found at the bottom of the container which tested positive for radioactive contamination, per a news release from WIPP officials. 

All personnel in the area were evacuated and tested for contamination, and operations were temporarily paused. 

No radioactive contamination was found on any person or in the air as of 10 p.m., per the news release. 

Workers were not in the underground at the time of the incident, the release read. 

No radiation was released from the site, and there was no risk to the public, read the news release. 

WIPP’s Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center were activated at the Skeen-Whitlock building in Carlsbad to respond to the incident that occurred at the facility east of Carlsbad near the border of Eddy and Lea counties.

“The activation occurred as a result of an abnormal event during routine waste handling at the WIPP site, located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico,” read the release.

The public was encouraged to follow WIPP on Twitter or Facebook for updates as the incident is investigated.

Waste handling activities at WIPP involve moving nuclear waste into the facility and transporting it about 2,000 feet underground for permanent disposal in an underground salt deposit.

The waste disposed of at WIPP is classified as transuranic (TRU) waste – clothes and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities at U.S. Department of Energy sites throughout the country.

The last major incident at WIPP occurred in 2014, when an incorrectly-packaged drum of waste shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico ruptured due to a chemical reaction.

The resulting radiation release contaminated parts of the WIPP underground and led to a three-year shutdown of the facility’s primary operations: waste disposal and mining.

The site reopened and began accepting waste again in 2017, with some areas of the underground remaining restricted and requiring workers to wear breathing apparatuses when entering.

This story will be updated as more information is made available.

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 21-015 April 4, 2022
CONTACT: Office of Public Affairs, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Unveils Look at Four Years of Strategic Planning;
Update Includes New Organizational Health and Stakeholder Confidence Goals
 
The NRC released today its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2022–2026, which offers a blueprint for how the agency will plan, implement, and monitor the work needed to ensure the safe and secure use of radioactive materials.
 
The Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 includes an exclusive new focus on the agency’s efforts to continue to foster a healthy organization and inspire stakeholder confidence.
 
“The Strategic Plan will serve the agency over the next four years by providing a defined roadmap that can be used in budget development and the agency’s ongoing implementation of the Foundations for the Evidence Act of 2018,” said NRC Chairman Christopher T. Hanson. “This Strategic Plan will also inform agency decision making regarding major new acquisitions, information technology, strategic human capital planning, evaluations, and other evidence-building and evidence-capacity building investments.”
 
Hanson added that the Strategic Plan identifies goals that include essential strategies to ensure that the agency carries out its critical mission with utmost efficiency and effectiveness.
 
The Strategic Plan is supported by an Evidence-Building Plan, an Annual Evaluation Plan, and a Capacity Assessment, which are new components required by the 2018 Evidence Act. These new components document strategic planning activities and organize evidence-building and evaluation to ensure an integrated and direct connection to evidence needs.
 
The NRC Strategic Plan explains that the enhanced focus on organizational health is vital to ensure the agency can perform as a modern, risk-informed regulator, prepare for an evolving future, improve performance and “achieve mission excellence in a diverse, inclusive and innovative environment.”
 
The Strategic Plan also notes that the NRC must excel in a manner that inspires stakeholder confidence and public trust. It outlines how the agency will promote transparency, provide opportunities for candid and meaningful public participation, and ensure stakeholders have a meaningful role in agency regulatory processes.

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
 

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