NRC lowers safety bar to accomodate nuke industry: Deja vu all over again

The Associated Press reported today that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission rather than enforcing safety oversight often overlooks its own regulations to accomodate the production agenda of an aging, cracking, rusting, crumbling and increasingly brittle nuclear power industry in the United States.

The AP story comes on the heels of the ProPublica report that NRC has lowered the safety bar for fire code in the nuclear industry.  For decades, most US reactors if not all have been in violation of fire safety law for protecting vital electric circuits needed for control room shutdown of the reactor in the event of fire. Rather than enforce regulations to protect electrical cables with 3 hour and 1 hour rated fire barriers to assure that the control room has time to shut down the plant during a fire, NRC is allowing  those electric circuits to remain unprotected from fire---in violation of regulations. Instead, NRC has been busy exempting those operators from the regulation and alternately, under a newly passed regulation, in the event of fire, allow the cables to burn, lose the control room operation and instead send a worker out into the burning reactor to manually shut the system down by hand and ignore the uncertainty posed by smoke, flames, heat and radiation.

The regulatory retreat has been going on for quite some time.    For example, when NRC found out that the nuclear power plants were loaded with a combustible sealant product to plug penetrations between fire zones in the plants instead of the "non-combustible" fire barrier penetration seals required by law, rather than enforce the law, NRC changed the law to remove the "non-combustible" criterion. Presto, compliance. But what about safety?


Water filtration at Fukushima halted after five hours

An effort to clean radioactively contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant had to be halted after just five hours. TEPCO said it suspended the operation after part of the system that absorbs radioactive cesium had reached its processing capacity and needed to be replaced far earlier than expected. Water uncontaminated with cesium is needed to cool the still out-of-control reactors.


Adieu at last to Areva's "Atomic Anne"

Anne Lauvergeon has been ousted as the CEO of Areva, the mostly government-owned French energy corporation. Lauvergeon was bounced before the conclusion of her term and replaced by Luc Oursel, Areva’s head of marketing and projects. Under Lauvergeon Areva was plagued by construction delays and cost overruns on a nuclear plant in Finland, as well as spats with Electricite de France, the French state utility. Beyond Nuclear protested the hypocrisy of the selection of Lauvergeon as keynote speaker at a non-proliferation conference in Washington, DC in 2009. Areva is responsible for the proliferation of nuclear technology across the globe, which can lead - and has - to the development of nuclear weapons programs.


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Our Freeze our Fukushimas! campaign is off to a flying start! More than 3,500 of you have already signed on as co-petitioners to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (see article below) to suspend the operating licenses of our own Fukushimas - the GE Mark I boiling water reactors operating on US soil. We don't want to spend your generous contributions on advertising fees but we still need to get the word out. Won't you please download our new Freeze our Fukushimas! advertisement here; place it in your newsletters; send it to your email lists; submit it to friendly publications; and put it on your websites and Facebook pages. If you need a JPG, please download that here. Or use the PDF version. Many thanks!


Contaminated sewage sludge worries Japanese

"Already the radioactivity from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has contaminated groundwater and seawater, the air and soil.

Now it has somehow seeped into sewage in dozens of treatment plants.

Radioactive caesium has been found in sewage sludge in treatment facilities from Hokkaido in the north to Osaka in the west, as well as in Tokyo.

So serious is the problem that Japan doesn't know where to put the growing pile of contaminated waste." ABC