NRC Wants Extreme Response Plan

Thursday, May 12, 2011 @ 04:05 PM gHale

U.S. nuclear power plant operators need to gather information on how they are complying with requirements to deal with the loss of large areas of the plant after extreme events, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said.

The events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, have highlighted the potential for U.S. plants to implement mitigative strategies, sometimes called “B5b” strategies.

The NRC is collecting information on the plants’ approach so they can make sure the strategies remain effective over time. The NRC said these strategies can effectively cool down reactor cores and spent fuel pools even if a plant’s normal safety systems suffer damage or are unavailable.

“We’ll review the plants’ responses to see if they need to take any additional actions to meet our existing requirements, along with seeing what the NRC might need to do to enhance those requirements and continue to protect public health and safety,” said NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. “Our task force examining information from the Japan quake will also go over the Bulletin responses as part of its ongoing review of our requirements.”

Plants have until June 10 to respond with information confirming their mitigative-strategy equipment is in place and available, as well as how they can carry out the strategies with current plant staffing.

Plants have until July 11 to respond with further information including:
• How they maintain, test and control essential resources to ensure availability
• How plant officials will re-evaluate strategies if plant conditions or configurations change
• How the plant can reach and maintain arrangements with local emergency response organizations.

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