Nuclear News on the Newswire

How should PRA adapt to a changing landscape?

Probabilistic risk assessment has been around for over 40 years, helping us understand the amazing, complex engineering systems we design, build, and operate. It’s a powerful tool, but the time has come to consider how we can modernize it. There are important gaps in PRA, including in areas such as human reliability, dynamics, natural hazards, and cybersecurity. However, there are three things that are even more important to do:

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Steven P. Nesbit

Depending on where you reside on this nuclear technology world of ours, you may care a great deal, or not at all, about who happens to be sitting on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at any given point in time. If you live on the Department of Energy continent or the Academia continent, it’s probably not a big deal. If you are on the Nuclear Power Plant Operator continent or the Vendor continent (which are actually part of the same landmass), it is quite important. If you are on the NRC island, it’s huge.

The NRC comprises five presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate–confirmed commissioners who are commonly referred to as “the Commission,” and approximately 3,000 federal employees referred to as the staff. The Commission oversees the NRC staff; together, they license and regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety. The president of the United States designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman, the principal executive officer of and the official spokesperson for the agency.

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Germany could save 1 billion tons of CO2 by 2045, says study

“The price of anti-nuclear psychosis (for that is what it is) will be paid by vulnerable countries and future generations who suffer the escalating damages of climate breakdown,” writes environmentalist and author Mark Lynas in the foreword to a new study, One Billion Tons: CO2 Reductions and a Faster Coal Exit in Germany. “This report puts numbers on this price to be paid for the first time—a nice round number of a billion tons.”

According to Lynas, the billion tons is the “opportunity cost” of the German government’s plan to shutter its remaining nuclear power plants by 2022 while keeping its coal plants going until 2038. (Three of those plants, Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen, are scheduled to close later this year.)

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Georgia Power again pushes back Vogtle project start dates

In what has become for nuclear advocates an all-too-familiar refrain, Georgia Power has made another revision to the Vogtle nuclear expansion project schedule. The company now predicts a Unit 3 in-service date in the third quarter of 2022 and a Unit 4 in-service date in the second quarter of 2023, representing a three-month shift for each unit.

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Inspecting nuclear facilities with unmanned aerial systems

Over the past decade, unmanned aerial systems (UASs), more commonly referred to as drones, have played an increasing role in the day-to-day activities of the energy sector. Applications range from visually inspecting wind turbines, flare stacks, pipelines, and facilities to evaluating vegetation encroachment near power lines. Although the benefits of UASs have been reported in these industries, their use in the nuclear community has only recently been explored. For instance, a drone was sent into a waterbox at a Duke Energy facility to inspect for leaks.1 And at Fukushima Daiichi, a drone was used to conduct a post-accident radiation survey inside Unit 3, and drones are being investigated for use inside the damaged containments.2

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