Safety remains nuclear power’s greatest post-Fukushima challenge

March 12, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Meshkati, holding an earthquake railing in a Fukushima Daiichi control room during a 2012 site visit. Photo: Najmedin Meshkati

As long as commercial nuclear power plants operate anywhere in the world, the authors of an article published this week on The Conversation believe it is critical for all nations to learn from what happened at Fukushima and continue doubling down on nuclear safety. But the authors, Kiyoshi Kurokawa and Najmedin Meshkati, say that a decade after the accident, the nuclear industry has yet to fully to address safety concerns that Fukushima exposed; the authors assign an “incomplete” grade to global nuclear safety.

In their article, Kurokawa and Meshkati write that the most urgent priority is developing tough, system-oriented nuclear safety standards, strong safety cultures, and much closer cooperation between countries and their independent regulators. They also believe that the International Atomic Energy Agency should urge its member states to find a balance between national sovereignty and international responsibility when it comes to operating nuclear power reactors in their territories.

New Year, New Committee, Diversity and Inclusion in ANS

February 21, 2019, 4:40PMANS Nuclear CafeDr. Lane Carasik

As I write this, I'm excited to know the future of the American Nuclear Society will involve the activities and efforts of the newly formed Diversity and Inclusion in ANS (DIA) Committee. The DIA Committee was formed after the 2018 Annual Meeting by expanding the Professional Women in ANS (PWANS) committee with the inclusion of Nuclear Pride, a LGBTQA+ nuclear organization. It is dedicated to giving a voice to all underrepresented and marginalized groups within ANS, including, but not limited to, women, persons of color, the LGBTQA+ community, and people with disabilities. This new committee is the result of the combined efforts of several people over several years to ensure all of these groups, named and not named, have a voice.

Nuclear Plant Construction Delay and Cost 3

November 2, 2018, 5:24PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Reactor vessel delivered to Calvert Cliffs; from brochure in Will Davis collection.

The year 1971 saw a continuation of the general trend of rising capital costs for all types of power plants, described by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in its publication for 1971 as having "risen rather rapidly."  According to the AEC, the aggregate major causes for the increases in costs specific to nuclear electric power plants were as follows, with author's analysis accompanying each:

Chernobyl Through the Mist of Decades

April 7, 2016, 2:10PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Courtesy SSE ChNPP.

In the administration building of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a number of stained glass windows (as seen to the right) recall the optimistic tone of industrial Soviet-era art that can still be viewed today at power plants around the former USSR. That these are well preserved is not the result of a specific effort, but instead because of the essential abandonment of large parts of the facility, and even the entire region, after the most serious nuclear reactor accident in 1986 in history.

Reporting An "Incident" As An "Accident"

December 4, 2014, 9:27PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station, Ukraine

On November 28, 2014, "Block 3" (or the third unit) at the massive Zaporizhia Nuclear Generating Station in Ukraine experienced a fault in electrical transmission equipment outside the nuclear portion of the plant itself. This fault essentially caused the 1000-MW rated nuclear plant to have nowhere to send that large amount of power it was generating, per its design. The nuclear plant tripped off its turbine generator (opening its output breakers) and scrammed the reactor. In the world of power generating equipment anywhere, no matter the power source, this type of event is fairly common. This scenario is possible when severe storms play havoc with the grid during intense lightning.

Fukushima Three Years Later

March 11, 2014, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis


Tokyo Electric Power Company's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Station; Units 6 and 7 were submitted for safety screening in September 2013.

In our collective memory, disturbing images played out on video around the world in the days following the apocalyptic Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami have somewhat receded, even if they haven't lost their impact-images of rushing waters, floating vehicles, buildings and debris, massive (and unstoppable) outbreaks of fire, and implications of lives lost and lives ruined.

Don't blame NRC uncertainty for San Onofre retirement

July 2, 2013, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeRod Adams

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station never threatened public health and safety. Unit 2 could have been restarted as soon as its scheduled outage was completed in February 2012. Unit 3 could have been restarted by mid-March 2012. The total cost of the repairs, including purchased replacement power, should have been less than $50 million and been covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

Fukushima Two Years Later

March 7, 2013, 2:58PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

At about a quarter to three in the afternoon on March 11, 2011, a gigantic and unprecedented earthquake struck just over 110 miles off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. The quake was followed, just over 40 minutes later, by the first of several rounds of tsunami, which inundated enormous areas and eradicated entire towns and villages. Over 19,000 people were killed or are still missing, and over 6,000 survivors were injured.

The future of nuclear at #MOXChat

September 25, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeLaura Scheele

On September 11, the National Nuclear Security Administration (U.S. Department of Energy) hosted a public meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn., concerning its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the disposition of surplus weapons-grade plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for use in power reactors. You may have seen the ANS Call to Action for the hearing and perhaps read the ANS position statement or background information.

ANS to host ICAPP 2012 at annual conference

June 11, 2012, 12:45PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The American Nuclear Society's Annual Conference, to be held June 24-28 in Chicago, Ill., will feature an embedded International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants (ICAPP 2012), ANS President Eric Loewen announced. "This international conference brings together nuclear leaders from around the world to share best practices and advance international understanding of the latest advances in nuclear power plants," said Loewen.

Starting a new nuclear construction industry is hard work

June 6, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeRod Adams

Construction at Vogtle units 3 and 4 and VC Summer units 2 and 3 is not going as well as many nuclear advocates would like. I'm not surprised, but neither are most people who have been involved in complex construction and technology projects that involve a lot of moving parts and numerous interested parties. Nothing that happens at those projects will change my mind that atomic fission is a superior way to produce heat and boil water. There is little chance that events at those individual projects will convince me that there is something fundamentally wrong with the advanced passive reactor plant design.

The ANS Student Section of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

April 12, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

American Nuclear Society President Eric Loewen visited the ANS student section at the University of Illinois on Tuesday, March 27, followed by dinner with the Central Illinois ANS local section. This event was part of Loewen's "March Madness" speaking tour, building toward the 2012 ANS Student Conference (which begins today in Las Vegas).  The occasion gave ANS Nuclear Cafe a chance to catch up with Valentyn Bykov, president of the ANS student section at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to discuss the section and its activities.

NRC/Fukushima hearing in US Senate on Thursday

March 12, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A hearing titled "Lessons from Fukushima One Year Later: NRC's Implementation of Recommendations for Enhancing Nuclear Reactor Safety in the 21st Century" will be held in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, March 15, at 10:00 AM EDT. The hearing will be a joint session of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.