Friday, November 22, 2013

Cover-up And OK'd Falsification of Documents At Seabook

Straight from Seabrook's union President Ted Jenis today about why they are still using that carbon steel crap pipe in the service water system.

SEABROOK — A federal mediator arrives at the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant today, hoping to break a contract impasse that could lead to a lockout of plant operators represented by the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, as early as Dec. 2.
“Their battle cry is‘natural gas is killing us. We are not making the money we were making five years ago,’ ” said Jenis. “But it’s hard for us to sit here and see these raises go out to management.”
"This is a workplace that has been beaten down over the last few years," he said.
 “There seems to be a total attitude change toward the workers from the corporate level.”
...This comes from a discussion I had with the senior resident NRC inspector in Seabrook.
So basically they put in a new 10 foot section of service water pipe in 2011. It had a plastic coating where they bragged it would last 20 years. It’s carbon steel pipe in a seawater system.
According to the Senior Resident inspector there is a lot of leaks in the service water system, one now in the cooling tower piping...he said carbon steel piping for seawater is “crap”. Him and me are brothers as we both served in nuclear submarines. He was talking about all the leaks and the chlorides in the seawater...I interrupted his happyland with that carbon steel is nothing but junk. I said you know that. Then he said, “yep, its crap”.

So it began leaking this Aug 7th or so. It is the summer and everyone worries about grid load if you know what I mean. Who pays for the replacement power if Seabrook had to shut down?

So Seabrook filled out per procedure “prompt operability determination” (POD) document. They did ultrasonic testing (UT)...the NRC report says they first filled out a UT report which is a falsification. There was no report in the most important moment of the NRC’s investigation when the inspector was first investigating the leaks. And the NRC’s managers don’t give a shit if Dominion puts up a ton of barriers making it difficult and up the precious inspector time... for the inspectors to investigate safety problems at a operating reactor.

As the senior inspector complained to me...we got only a very limited amount of paid time in a day, week or monthly pay period. We are incentivized to spend very little time at the plant. We don’t get paid after 40 hours. I believe the manager don’t want them to put in extra time. Political Campaign contributions stuff these rule down the inspector throats. The nuclear plant executives fears the more hours an inspector spends at a plant the more violation they will get.   

“No” so says the senior resident inspector. The POD referencing the UT basically said the leak was insignificant and there are no long term risks. This resident inspector in a prior life was a welder and he read many UT results. Dominion didn’t think the NRC would go in farther than the POD. But the resident asked to see the UT report. Seabrook himmed and hawed looking for the document...the resident finally decided to hunt it down by foot. He went into a few offices...finally an Dominion employee finding it in the UT machine. He had start up the actual device. Dominion was making it difficult for the inspectors to see the documents.

The UT reading was obscenely worse than the POD. Dominion falsified the POD.

I asked the resident, well then it’s a falsification and you can’t trust the integrity of the staff at the plant. He said he agreed with that...but we called it just gross incompetence. What is the difference I said, if you are so grossly incompetent you can’t accurately assess the leaking hole in a pipe in an unbelievable important plant and reactor cooling pipe. The UT said a rather large area had a zero thickness.   

I mean, how can you trust Seabrook to assess anything in the plant.

I asked, once you learned Seabrook lost the bubble and played games in hiding safety testing results why didn’t the agency declare the side INOP and make them shutdown in 24 hours like the rules demand. He remained silent on this. But I pushed him about Dominion falsifying safety documents the NRC depends on. He thought for a moment, “saying they didn’t see it like that, they were just grossly incompetent.

The leak eventually got much worst...the NRC said the sized of the hole and leak in the plant was larger than any of there safety analysis.

He said the Dominion was basically obstinate throughout this, that the plant was safe through the next month...they didn’t even need to put a Band-Aid on it. 

The resident indicated he couldn’t believe how reckless Dominion was and how disrespectful Seabrook was to the role he played at the plant  He advocated Seabrook should be severely sited with a violation for their behavior...but his bosses above him prevented him from siting the plant. So how is the plant going to respect him now.

Dominion stock price is doing extremely well compare to the other utilities. Their stock price has been on a steep increase for many years. We have seen how utilities get big headed over high stock prices. They basically think their stock price proves they are safe. A high price stock price is very leads to arrogance and overconfidence.

1)    Dominion falsified the POD saying the leak was insignificant when they had indications there was zero pipe wall metal left and the geometry of the hole could lead to a very large increase in leak rate. The NRC allows Dominion to get away with inaccurate and falsified documents to a Federal regulator.

2)    Dominion gave falsified information on the new "piping material and Belzona" on its service water system. So they had evidence this Belzona crap could fail very early and it still did. Seabrook promised in their license renewal they would get service water leaks and degradation and it is only gotten more out of control and worsening with new piping failing in two years.

     April 26, 2012
      Seabrook Station Response to Request for Additional Information 
NextEra Energy Seabrook License Renewal Application Supplemental Response - RAI B.2.1.11-2 and B.2.1.12-6 
      Belzona® products are polymeric materials commonly used for lining and liner repairs at Seabrook Station. An engineering evaluation performed in 1993 indicates that Belzona lined pipe has an expected service life of 15 years. However, review of the NextEra Energy OE database has not indicated failures of the Belzona lining due to exceeding its service life. The condition of all Service Water pipe linings is monitored via periodic internal pipe inspections in accordance with the "Service Water Inspection and Repair Trending Program"' Preventive maintenance activities have been initiated to insure inspections are scheduled and are being tracked. The extent of use of the Belzona and polyurethane coatings in Service Water piping has been identified and is being tracked in the Service Water Inspection and Repair Trending Program.

3)   The NRC managers place improper pressure on a senior resident inspector to downplay the severity of safety piping leak into a non sited violation.

I wish the inspectors and their managers had more attention to detail. There is two renditon with how they charactoize the leaking hole. Which one is right?

I been through the rounds, made a safety complaint to region I. Talked to the region I public relation department and got Senator Shaheen office to begin asking questions to the NRC. Called Seabrook plant security and asked them to pass on a message to their PR department or engineering for comment.
November 19, 2013
Mr. Kevin Walsh
Site Vice President
Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant
NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC
c/o Mr. Michael Ossing
P.O. Box 300
Seabrook, NH 03874


Introduction. The inspectors identified a Green NCV of 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, “Instructions, Procedures, and Drawings,” and an associated violation of TS 3.7.4, because NextEra did not follow the requirements of station procedure EN-AA-203-1001, “Operability Determinations/ Functionality Assessments.” Specifically, NextEra did not properly evaluate and document an adequate basis for operability, when relevant information was available that would have challenged the “reasonable assurance for operability” threshold for a SW through-wall leak that degraded incrementally from weepage on August 7, 2013, to a significantly larger leak on August 28, 2013.
Description. On August 7, 2013, NextEra personnel discovered a through-wall leak on  a section of 24-inch bypass piping associated with the “B” train SW system strainer No. 11. In accordance with EN-AA-203-1001, “Operability Determinations/ Functionality Assessments,” an immediate operability determination was performed that concluded the SW system was operable but degraded, with an estimated leak rate of 10 drops per minute (dpm), and within the CAP under action request (AR) No. 01895334. NextEra subsequently completed a prompt operability determination (POD), on August 8, 2013, which utilized American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code case N-513-3, “Evaluation Criteria for Temporary Acceptance of Flaws in Moderate Energy Class 2 or 3 Piping,” Section XI, Division 1, consistent with site procedures and NRC regulations. The POD documented the piping section had adequate structural integrity to meet code requirements, following the performance of volumetric examination of the flaw, through the use of ultrasonic testing (UT), performed in accordance with procedure ES1807.012, “Ultrasonic Thickness Measurements.”
Additionally, the UT report was reviewed by Engineering based on the results of the flaw evaluation and concluded the flaw was stable and acceptable for continued service. The UT evaluation documented and characterized the flaw as exhibiting an “abrupt change in thickness from nominal…absent the normal intermittent thickness readings that are seen within flawed areas of SW piping.” Because of this atypical result, the flaw was “conservatively bounded” by the inside piping surface UT signal loss, resulting in a flaw size of “…2.327-inches circumferentially by 1.50-inches axially with a remaining wall thickness of 0.00-inches… The POD also concluded the observed leak rate was within design and licensing basis flow and leakage requirements, which supported the operable but degraded conclusion.
On August 20, 2013, NextEra personnel identified that the leak had degraded to an approximate leak rate of 90 dpm. The basis of operability, which was documented in AR report No. 01898318, referred back to the August 8 POD, (performed under AR 01895334) and concluded the 90 dpm leakage value continued to be within the bounding design and licensing basis flow and leakage requirements. The operability basis was supported by a follow-up UT of the affected area, performed on August 21, which revealed essentially similar UT results. The evaluation summarized the flaw examination as follows:
“Based on the PAUT examination the flaws axial and circumferential dimensions are unchanged with no reportable thickness. However, the rapid change in the OD surface coupled with the lack of UT thickness data in the flawed area suggests that there is little remaining wall at this location. It is likely that the size of the through wall hole will rapidly increase to the full 1.5-inch by 2.367-inch dimension.”
On August 28, 2013, during a planned performance of surveillance testing of a CT SW pump, NextEra identified that the leak had progressively worsened to an estimated 25 gallons per minute (gpm). Subsequent evaluations postulated that the additional SW header pressure during CT SW pump operation (66 psig versus nominal 48 psig) contributed to the degrading condition of the leak at the identified flaw location. NextEra installed a housekeeping patch to limit the impact of water spray, and instituted several corrective actions under AR No. 01900249, as well as the originating AR No. 01895334 and its associated POD, which had continued to govern the basis and continued reasonable assurance for operability, which included, for example, the formation of an Operational Decision-Making (ODM) team, and planning extent-of-condition piping inspections to meet Code Case N513-3 requirements.
Also, TS 3.7.4.d requires, in part, that with two loops (except two CT loops) inoperable, return at least one of the affected loops to OPERABLE status within 24 hours, or be in at least HOT STANDBY within 6 hours and in COLD SHUTDOWN within the following 30 hours. Contrary to the above, between August 7, 2013, and September 1, 2013, when the weldolet repair was completed on the “B” SW header piping, one CT SW loop and one ocean SW loop were inoperable for greater than TS requirements, and therefore,  is considered a TS-prohibited condition. Corrective actions included apparent cause evaluations to determine the cause of (1) the flaw on the “B” SW strainer bypass header and (2) the missed opportunities to identify the significance of the UT data, as well as the NRC-approved code relief that resulted in the temporary weldolet installed over the flaw area on the “B” SW strainer bypass header. NextEra entered these issues into their CAP as AR 01904703.
The inspectors assessed NextEra performance regarding the evaluation of the degrading and non-conforming condition, and concluded that all available information should have resulted in a determination by NextEra that the leak could propagate to the bounding geometry discussed in the UT reports to 1.5-inches circumferentially and 2.3-inches axially. Moreover, since flow through this 1.5-inch by 2.3-inch defect would result in leakage outside the current licensing and design bases of the plant, reasonable assurance of operability was no longer appropriate for the circumstances, and should have resulted in the “B” SW ocean and CT headers being declared inoperable.

As a result, the inspectors determined that the reasonable expectation of operability was no longer credibly assured based on the following factors:
 1. The subject carbon steel (belzona-lined) piping was newly-installed on or about April 2011, with a nominal thickness of 0.375-inches. The leak in August 2013, directly indicates an average loss over the approximate 28 months of 0.160-inches/year, which far exceeded the corrosion rates of 0.030-inches/year utilized in the POD to justify continued operability;

2. The actual, rapid leak propagation that occurred from 10 dpm on August 7, to 90 dpm on August 20, to 25 gpm (while running CT SW pumps) on August 28, and ultimately, the estimated 15 gpm with normal ocean SW pressures, indicated a flaw degradation that appeared to be consistent with the flaw evaluation conducted following the volumetric examinations;
3. The physical condition of the piping at the flaw location was characterized initially as “weepage,” on August 7, followed by a “concavity” that appeared at the flaw location on August 20, and ultimately as a through-wall hole on August 28 with a resultant estimated leak rate of 25 gpm. This rapid deterioration of ASME Class 3 piping wall was also consistent with the flaw evaluation and volumetric examinations that predicted very little remaining material of a specific geometry;

4. Information regarding the leak-rate from a hole characterized in the flaw evaluation, i.e., bounded by “…2.327-inches circumferentially by 1.50-inches axially with a remaining wall thickness of 0.00-inches…” was not integrated into the evaluation under the POD regarding the reasonable expectation of operability. Moreover, when the bounding flaw size was used to determine potential leak rates using standard engineering equations, an approximate 570 gpm leak rate was calculated. This resultant leak rate was outside the Operability criteria established in the POD of (1) 137.25 gpm (excluding SW boundary valve leak-by) based on leakage criteria associated with UFSAR design basis values of CT inventory for a 7-day mission time without makeup, (2) 130 gpm available margin from calculations that address SW cooling the primary component cooling heat exchanger, and (3) 250 gpm available margin from calculations that address SW cooling the diesel generator heat exchanger; and
5. It was known that the rapid leak propagation occurred from 90 dpm to 25 gpm on August 28, during surveillance testing of CT pumps, which directly indicated that a 20 psig increase in fluid system pressures caused the rapid leak propagation. Coupled with the volumetric flow information that was also known, a direct challenge to the reasonable expectation of operability should have been identified, or, more directly, a recognition that for all specified safety functions and design basis mission times, further operability of the “B” SW header with a rapidly degrading pipe wall and increased leak rates, was not assured.
Subsequently, through discussions between the NRC and NextEra, on August 31, NextEra was granted relief to perform a temporary, non-ASME code repair to the SW piping through the installation of a weldolet assembly over the affected flaw area, in compliance with 10 CFR 50.55a(a)(3)(ii), and completed the repair efforts on September 1, 2013. Current NextEra planning includes replacement of the flaw area in the next refueling outage, and completion of corrective actions associated with a number of apparent cause evaluations and other associated activities.
Analysis. The inspectors identified that NextEra did not follow the requirements of station procedure EN-AA-203-1001, “Operability Determinations/ Functionality Assessments.” Specifically, NextEra did not properly evaluate and document an adequate basis for operability, when relevant information was available in the form of atypical UT data and assessment, and more importantly, the propagation of a SW leak from a flaw that occurred between August 7 and August 28, 2013. The characterization and assessment of the flaw through UT methods was consistent with the leak propagation that was subsequently observed. This information was available for utilization during the prompt operability determination process, and directly challenges the “reasonable expectation for operability” threshold for a SW through-wall leak. Specifically, EN-AA-203-1001 stipulates that determination of operability be based on “the licensee’s reasonable expectation,” from the evidence collected, that SSCs are operable and that the operability determination will support the expectation. This failure to consider all relevant information was reasonably within NextEra’s ability to foresee and correct, and their failure to appropriately assess operability when a degrading or non-conforming condition was identified was a performance deficiency. This performance deficiency is more than minor, and considered a finding, because it is associated with the equipment performance attribute of the Mitigating Systems Cornerstone, and affected its objective to ensure the availability, reliability, and capability of systems that respond to initiating events to prevent undesirable consequences. Specifically, the prompt operability determination incorrectly concluded the “B” CT SW header and the “B” SW (ocean) pumps were operable, but degraded, because they did not utilize appropriate rigor to determine that given the (1) UT information and assessment, (2) identified flaw size, and (3) actual leak propagation, the resultant information translated into potential leakage values would have yielded leak rates in excess of the operability limits established in NextEra’s current licensing basis, and in some cases, inconsistent with design basis required boundary leakage values.
The inspectors and Region I Senior Reactor Analyst (SRA) used IMC 0609, “Significance Determination Process,” Attachment 04, to perform the initial safety significance characterization of this finding. The inspectors assumed that functionality of the SW system, based upon the as-found wall thinning, would only be challenged when aligned to the cooling tower basin (higher suction pressure) and the SW piping is subjected to a higher overall system pressure. This system configuration is used to mitigate a seismic event following the loss of the normal SW intake structure. Accordingly, the inspectors used IMC 0609, Appendix A, Exhibit 2, “Mitigating Systems Screening Questions,” and Exhibit 4, “External Events Screening Questions,” to assess this issue and conclude a detailed risk evaluation was warranted.
The SRA used insights from the Seabrook Updated FSAR and Seabrook Individual Plant Examination of External Events (IPEEE), as well as, the Risk Assessment Standardization Project (RASP) Handbook, Volume 2, to perform a qualitative assessment. The operating basis earthquake (OBE) and the safe shutdown earthquake (SSE) peak horizontal ground acceleration values are 0.125g and 0.25g, respectively. From IPEEE Table 3.2, “Seabrook Fragility Analysis: Seismic Capacity of Structures,” and Table 3.3, “Seabrook Fragility Analysis: Equipment Fragilities,” the seismic design capacities of the Service Water (SW) Pumphouse, SW Intake Structure, SW Cooling Tower, and SW piping are all built to withstand seismic events that exceed 2.0g. Based upon IPEEE, Figure 3-1, “Family of Seismic Hazard Curves for the Seabrook Site,” the annual exceedance probability of an earthquake producing ground accelerations greater than 2.0g (of a magnitude sufficient to challenge the seismic capacity of the SW Intake Structure) is approximately 1.0E-07. Assuming an earthquake of this magnitude and the failure of the SW intake structure, it is likely the unit will be manually shutdown, if not automatically tripped, from the event. In conjunction with plant walkdowns to identify and assess SSC damage, operators would be tasked with aligning the service water suction to the cooling tower basin. Assuming worst case operator performance due to high stress and limited time available to restore service water cooling for decay heat removal and RCP seal cooling, the SRA assumed a one in ten probability of failure (to realign the SW system suction to the cooling tower basin). Lastly, the probability of a service water piping failure (rupture) due to the observed wall thinning cannot be accurately quantified, but under a worst case condition can assume to be 1.0. Therefore, the estimated increase in core damage probability associated with this performance deficiency is in the low 1.0E-08 range or very low safety significance (Green).
The finding has a cross-cutting aspect in the area of human performance associated with the decision making component because NextEra failed to use conservative assumptions in decision-making and adopt a requirement to demonstrate that the proposed action is safe in order to proceed rather than a requirement to demonstrate it is unsafe in order to disapprove the action. Specifically, NextEra personnel had not considered relevant information in the form of UT data and actual leak propagation to conclude that they no longer had “reasonable assurance of operability” and did not declare the “B” header of ocean and CT SW systems inoperable [H.1(b)].
Enforcement. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, “Instructions, Procedures, and Drawings,” requires, in part, that activities affecting quality shall be prescribed by documented instructions or procedures, and shall be accomplished accordingly. NextEra’s procedure EN-AA-203-1001, “Operability Determinations/ Functionality Assessments,” requires in part, that a SSC remains operable until reasonable expectation of operability cannot be demonstrated, with specific focus on the ability of the SSC to perform its specified safety function. Contrary to the above, NextEra did not properly evaluate and document an adequate basis for operability, when relevant information from volumetric UT data was available that would have challenged the “reasonable assurance for operability” threshold for a SW through-wall leak that degraded incrementally from weepage on August 7, 2013, to a significantly larger leak on August 28, 2013. In addition, between August 7, 2013 and September 1, 2013, when the weldolet repair was completed on the “B” SW header piping, one CT SW loop and one ocean SW loop were inoperable for greater than TS 3.7.4.b. requirements, and therefore, is a TS-prohibited condition. NextEra entered this issue regarding the TS violation in the CAP, to evaluate the cause and to determine actions to prevent recurrence, as AR No. 01916618 and 01904703. Because this finding is of very low safety significance and was entered into NextEra’s CAP, this violation is being treated as an NCV consistent with Section 2.3.2 of the NRC Enforcement Policy.
(NCV 05000443/2013004-01, Inadequate Operability Determination Regarding Service Water Leakage and Associated TS Violation)

Friday, November 15, 2013

NRC: Nuclear Safety Myth And Risk Perspectives

November 19, 2013

Macfarlane Reaffirms NRC Commitment to Safety; Cautions Industry about Budget Impact on Agency

ATLANTA – Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane Tuesday acknowledged to nuclear executives that both the NRC and the industry face economic challenges but cautioned that a diligent commitment to nuclear power plant safe and secure operation of must remain paramount.

“Clearly, these are demanding economic times for all of us. But in the face of uncertainty we must continue to demonstrate together that plant safety and security aren’t, and never will be, in jeopardy,” Macfarlane told the CEO conference of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, an industry organization that focuses on improving nuclear safety.
Macfarlane also said the recent government shutdown created a backlog of non-emergency licensing work and delayed important projects such as the Waste Confidence rule work and post-Fukushima actions.

She added that, “while the recent lapse in federal appropriations is the most recent and most problematic external financial challenge we’ve faced, it is not the only one. For the past year we’ve had to readjust our work in response to required sequestration cuts and unabated continuing resolutions. We’re now facing the possibility of another year of sequestration at even more austere funding levels. … The combination of well-grounded immediate priorities and constrained and unpredictable annual budgeting means that important long-term focused work simply isn’t going to get done.”

“In some cases, it could mean additional delays – in others it means certain activities may be temporarily suspended. … The commission recognizes this, and we’re working to ensure that we continue to have the ability to do as much as we can with the resources we have.”

In her remarks Macfarlane also highlighted:
• Appreciation for INPO’s emphasis on the link between strong plant management and consistent plant performance, and for the industry’s work to implement lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.
• Overall nuclear power plants continued to perform well, but there are a few trends of concern attributable to systemic issues, such as maintenance practices for aging equipment.
• The Commission this week decided how the agency will proceed on the Yucca Mountain issue.
• The NRC has received “valuable input” from a variety of perspectives at public meetings on the Waste Confidence issue.

• The agency is monitoring domestic and international concerns about counterfeit and fraudulent parts and challenged both industry and the NRC staff to “maintain a shared commitment to vigilant vendor inspection.”

• The NRC has “worked closely with industry and Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies on an integrated [emergency] response program for nuclear power plants. In the past year in particular, closer cooperation between industry and the various government entities has yielded good results and the program is advancing.”

• Operators of plants undergoing decommissioning should “engage with the public and be transparent about decision-making.”

• All facility operators “should be more proactive in engaging interested parties in their communities. I think there’s a clear linkage between continued, productive dialogue and the establishment of mutual trust in a particular community.”
Nov 15, 2013

So the Japanese’s nuclear safety myth is their industry’s PR people educating or teaching the general population nuclear power is safer than it really was. This whole deal allowed the collusion between the politicians, regulators and nuclear industry. The whole deal is a system that enables the nuclear industry to hide information from the public and the activist. It is so undemocratic at its core. It also is a system to intimidated the good nuclear employees to not disclose and fix troubling problems...which bolstered the status and profits of the higher ups.

Basically the USA "risk perspectives" is a undecipherable safety analysis and code words to insiders and outsider alike. It is mostly used to get the officials to repeat over and over again the plants are safe, safe, safe.  I called it the "nothing ever matters "rationalization and we know it undermines the good employees in the industry. If you look at risk perspectives carefully, it is a system designed to not discuss ongoing problems in the industry, and get problems fixed. We are spinning safety as much as the Japanese.
You need agency actions that changes plant's bad behaviors...not agency actions that just harmlessly bureaucratizes poor practices and unsafe behavior. Sticking a corporation in the corner for five minutes just doesn't change their behavior. I think we got host of troubling plants out there who have been enabled by the mentality of “nothing ever matters” risk perspectives. And we have entered a historic tough economic environment and the “nothing ever matters” risk perspectives wouldn’t protect the nuclear industry in our new reality.

I see the degrading economics and poor maintenance as tremendously increasing the complexity of the operators environment. They are juggling too many balls. We are going to have an accident and it is going to look like all the employees are all crazy. It will really be we put these guys in a too complex environment without enough economic support.  
So our USA risk perspectives and the Japanese’s nuclear safety myth and regulatory capture are the same thing. The inability of the NRC to ask the fundamental question of, how is the Japanese’s safety myth the same as our risk perspectives is an indication we are in the Japanese mentality before Fukushima.
The last and most important safety barrier is an active and engaged political system...they are constantly testing if the nuclear industry’s activities are making sense.  If things go south, they know how to go in there and knock heads together in order to get a change of behavior out of the regulator and the industry. Do you think our political system has this competence today?   
"I think that the Fukushima accident provided a clear example of the importance of an independent, well-funded regulator as a critical foundation for any nuclear program, regardless of its size or scope. In the initial months, an independent commission of high-level officials appointed by the Japanese Diet took a hard look at the potential causes of the accident. The Kurokawa Commission, as it was known, released a candid report that concluded that the accident was“manmade,” a result in part of “regulatory capture,” in which the industry had too great an influence over the regulator. The report also coined the phrase“nuclear safety myth” to characterize an unfortunate overconfidence that low-probability, high-risk events would simply not occur."
Prepared Remarks of NRC Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting

Monday, November 11, 2013 – Washington, DC

Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here today to reflect on what lies ahead for nuclear safety in the next quarter century. I’m honored to join this esteemed group of panelists and I’m looking forward to our discussion. Today, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the events and lessons that have shaped our current perspectives on nuclear safety and on how best to keep a bright spotlight on safety in the years ahead.

The annual ANS Winter Meeting always brings together a diverse audience, including students from a number of disciplines. Many of you are engaged in research and in generating knowledge that might advance the use of nuclear technologies for global benefit in the coming years. As a scientist, I know well the excitement and sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing that your contributions are adding to human understanding of the world around us.

This is a significant time for all of us in the nuclear field. Next month marks 60 years since President Eisenhower delivered his iconic “Atoms for Peace” speech at the United Nations. In the decades that have followed, there have been substantial advances in energy, medicine, and industry as a result of nuclear technology.

We’re now at a juncture where further expansion of civilian nuclear power to non-nuclear countries is poised to occur. As the nuclear power landscape changes, the international community must remain vigilant to protect against potential hazards and malicious uses posed by nuclear technology without effective regulation. Use of nuclear power requires a strong regulatory regime to ensure that the power of the atom is put to beneficial use and to protect against misuse and/or complacency that opens the door to unacceptable risk of potentially devastating consequences.

Fukushima’s Ongoing Lessons

The Fukushima-Daiichi accident nearly three years ago challenged us to revisit established assumptions and regulatory priorities. As the accident unfolded, it became clear that we should consider the possibility of multiple units at the same facility experiencing an accident. We also realized that in some cases, we may not have sufficiently addressed the threats that some natural disasters could pose.

As the international community began to come together in the ensuing months, it was affirming to see that we were reaching similar technical conclusions about where safety enhancements were necessary. As a result, despite the diversity of nuclear power programs worldwide in terms of size, scope, design, and other factors, we’ve been able to collaborate closely and benefit from one another’s experiences.

Our work to address lessons learned from the accident continues. We’re reassessing our licensees’ ability to mitigate seismic and flooding events and requiring them to ensure adequate emergency response training and communication to cope with prolonged accident conditions. They’re strategically placing backup equipment on-site to help maintain reactor cooling in the event of a loss of power. We’ve also required enhanced instrumentation to better measure the water level in spent fuel pools. While many of these activities are well on their way to completion, we’ll need to address some items through rulemaking at our agency. This can be time-consuming, but provides the benefit of codifying lessons we’ve learned with opportunities for public participation throughout the rulemaking process.

Worldwide Nuclear Energy Pursuits

The Fukushima accident halted the course of future nuclear energy development in some countries, but others are moving ahead with their plans, including some new players. The community of countries operating or developing nuclear power programs is becoming more diverse. Some of these are developed countries that have an interest in diversifying their energy portfolios. Others are still grappling with developing basic infrastructure. It’s possible that new developments in small modular reactor technology in future years may further broaden the range of countries seeking to pursue nuclear power.

In some respects, the prospect of initiating a new nuclear power program from the ground up could be seen as a positive opportunity. These “newcomer” countries have a chance to reflect on the decades of lessons others have learned – sometimes the hard way. They can establish a competent, well-funded regulator; promote a healthy safety culture; consider the ultimate disposal of nuclear waste before any is generated; and communicate clearly with the public on each new step in the process. I think that the possibilities, at least in a philosophical sense, appear broad and encouraging.

But of course, I note that there are often competing external pressures contributing to the desire to establish a civilian nuclear power program. There are urgent economic and energy needs. There’s political prestige. There’s the consideration of a country’s sovereign right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. And, in rare cases, there’s a desire among some to leverage the technology for geopolitical purposes by pursuing a nuclear weapons program. We’ve seen these factors contribute to the establishment of high-level policies that put nuclear power programs on a fast track. From a regulatory standpoint, however, a strong focus on nuclear safety and security should be the ultimate objective. I believe there’s a need to balance the right to possess nuclear technology with the responsibilities that come with it. Nuclear safety is a global obligation – there cannot be a vibrant nuclear power industry without a global commitment to safety. And an essential component of that commitment is the presence of a strong, independent regulatory body.

Why a Strong Regulator?

The role of the nuclear regulator has evolved and expanded over time – the United States is no exception. The creation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1974 was the result of a pivotal realization that regulation of an industry would never be sufficiently effective if it was linked

organizationally to the promotion of that industry. But I would be remiss if I oversimplified this point. Establishing an effective, independent regulatory structure is not a one-step process, nor does it remain static. The NRC has continued to hone its independent regulatory model in the 35-plus years since our agency was established. On a global level, the NRC and our counterparts in other countries routinely engage in discussions about what regulatory independence means, and there’s not always universal agreement about its definition.

It’s clear that a regulator’s organizational independence will vary depending on the overall political structure of the country – and since there’s no fixed model for the latter, it’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to nuclear regulation. But while our experiences may differ, one resounding lesson is that safety must transcend all else. To be effective, a regulator must be independent of any political, economic, or other policy interest whose outside influence could coerce the regulatory body to make decisions that aren’t in safety’s best interest. The regulator must have sufficient, sustainable funding to ensure that it can effectively do its job and attract the best and the brightest. I believe that, for a regulator to have the trust and support of the public, it must be committed to openness and transparency – providing information about its work in terms the public can understand, and affording the public opportunities for input into its processes. Finally, the independent status of the regulator must have support from government leaders – nuclear safety must factor into national decision-making.

I think that the Fukushima accident provided a clear example of the importance of an independent, well-funded regulator as a critical foundation for any nuclear program, regardless of its size or scope. In the initial months, an independent commission of high-level officials appointed by the Japanese Diet took a hard look at the potential causes of the accident. The Kurokawa Commission, as it was known, released a candid report that concluded that the accident was “manmade,” a result in part of “regulatory capture,” in which the industry had too great an influence over the regulator. The report also coined the phrase “nuclear safety myth” to characterize an unfortunate overconfidence that low-probability, high-risk events would simply not occur.

Obviously, the Fukushima accident has prompted all of us, even the most developed countries with the most well-established programs, to reassess how we do things and see where enhancements may be necessary. It’s clear that any type of nuclear accident anywhere in the world has global consequences. The response to this accident plainly demonstrates the need for a continued global commitment to preventing future incidents.

You may have seen media coverage over the past year about counterfeit and fraudulent parts making their way into nuclear construction sites, or of greater concern, being discovered at operating reactors. This concern is not unique to the nuclear industry, and general advances in technology have prompted new worries about hard-to-spot fake computer chips and circuit boards. Today’s nuclear industry relies on a global supply chain, and new reactors being designed and constructed around the world have all digital operating systems. Taken together, these factors clearly point to the need for a global regulatory commitment to rigorous quality control, irrespective of a problem’s country of origin. It is unwise, and potentially dangerous, for a country to embark on nuclear construction without a vigilant vendor inspection program.

There’s also been discussion about a “build-own-operate” model for new nuclear power plants in countries without established nuclear programs. The objective would be to rely on vendors and contractors from an experienced nuclear power country to handle all aspects of the new country’s

program, from the construction to the day-to-day operation, and even the regulation. In some cases, this model presupposes virtually no indigenous nuclear engineering capability or regulatory structure. I believe this would be problematic for several reasons.

First, it would make the host country fully reliant on foreign inspectors to maintain the plant, identify safety concerns, and quickly address them. In a worst-case scenario, I find it worrisome to consider a sovereign country counting on a foreign entity, potentially thousands of miles away, to oversee the response to a nuclear accident. Second, as an open, transparent regulator, the NRC regularly communicates with other federal, state, and local government agencies, interest groups, the media, and members of the public. This communication happens on a routine basis – not just in the event of an incident. If a country chooses to place its nuclear program in the hands of a foreign regulator, that country would relinquish its ability to ensure that it is adequately informing its own citizens about that program.

Regulators also have an important role to play in upholding non-proliferation commitments. Regulatory controls on nuclear materials help ensure that these materials are kept out of the hands of malicious actors and ensure safeguards measures are enforced. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was carefully crafted to create a balance between the right to develop nuclear technology and the responsibility to safeguard this technology to ensure its exclusively peaceful use. The regulator is integral to the efforts to uphold this balance by establishing clear requirements for the safe and secure use of the technology. Effective regulatory requirements demonstrate a country’s commitment to peaceful use, which, in my view, should facilitate access to the technology, rather than being perceived as a bureaucratic obstacle.

A regulator’s non-proliferation role extends to any country that uses nuclear materials for any reason, even if the country never intends to establish a civilian nuclear power program. A robust regulatory infrastructure is necessary to ensure safety and security in authorizing these materials to move from place to place and overseeing their storage and use once at their destinations. There’s also an economic benefit – these types of controls actually enhance efficiency of movement of these materials across the marketplace by ensuring a clear destination, thereby minimizing delays.

Putting it into Practice

The NRC is working continuously to put these regulatory ideals into practice. At home, we have a rigorous safety and security oversight program. Our resident inspectors are a daily presence at our licensed facilities, helping to ensure that identified issues are promptly addressed. I should note that, during our recent government shutdown, all of these inspectors remained on the job. We take more than 1,000 licensing actions each year, all publicly available, following well-established, well-documented procedures. We work closely with the 37 Agreement States, which regulate tens of thousands of nuclear materials licensees throughout the country to ensure that our collective approach is effective. We license all imports and exports of civilian nuclear materials. We’re committed to openness and transparency, and our processes provide documented opportunities for public involvement. While I believe there’s always room for improvement, we’re certainly practicing the kind of competent, independent regulation that we advocate.

The NRC is also engaged internationally, both bilaterally and with multilateral organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency. We work closely with our regulatory counterparts to

address safety and security issues of mutual interest. We also provide assistance to countries with new or small nuclear programs. We share insights about establishing a sound regulatory infrastructure, offer workshops on the development of laws and regulations, and participate in international peer review missions assessing the health of regulatory bodies. With effective use of these principles in our domestic program, we’re proud to demonstrate credible leadership in this area.

We also played a critical role in strengthening implementation of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, or CNS, following the Fukushima accident. The U.S. Government, with the NRC in a leadership role, joined other countries in successfully advocating for stronger language about the importance of regulatory independence in the Convention’s guidance documents. These documents provide a roadmap for countries to report how they’re meeting their obligations under the Convention. Thanks to these enhanced guidance documents, countries will be asked to offer specific information about their regulatory structure at the upcoming Review Meeting next spring. All countries’ reports, including ours, will be peer reviewed with the intent of identifying areas for improvement. These upcoming exchanges will give us valuable input to consider.

I just mentioned the NRC’s collaboration with other U.S. Government agencies in the CNS context. We also work with our interagency colleagues to provide support and offer regulatory assistance for countries considering U.S. technology. It’s important for me to emphasize that the NRC doesn’t promote nuclear energy. However, it’s become clear that the expertise we can offer in the way of design review and certification, construction oversight and quality assurance checks, and other related areas is of interest to countries considering nuclear power. From a purely regulatory standpoint, we believe this type of focused collaboration contributes positively toward advancing our collective goal of strengthening nuclear safety and security worldwide.

Keeping the Momentum Going

Reflecting once again on the theme of today’s discussions, it’s safe to say that all aspects of nuclear energy – from how it’s generated to how it’s regulated – have changed considerably since the technology’s initial introduction. Today’s approach to nuclear regulation is naturally defined by our experiences. We’ve sought to identify, share, and advance good practices, and we’ve used the less positive moments as opportunities to learn and do better. This is an ongoing process. Growing and changing over time is healthy for any organization.

But as we move forward, ready to embrace the lessons of the decades to come, it is imperative that we continue to shine that bright spotlight on safety. Nuclear regulation, like the nuclear industry and most everything in our time, is a global effort – and safety and security are shared responsibilities. The Fukushima accident reinforced this reality in a tragic way, but it didn’t introduce it. A global commitment to effective, independent nuclear regulation is an absolute must if we are to prevent future accidents and guard against malicious use of nuclear materials.

The NRC is leading by example. Our regulatory oversight of our licensees is rigorous, independent and open. Our export controls facilitate the safe and secure movement of nuclear materials in and out of the United States, and give us assurance that materials will be properly protected upon reaching their destinations. Our international assistance work enables us to share lessons from our domestic regulatory program to benefit others – whether they are countries pursuing nuclear power for the first time or seeking to strengthen their oversight of facilities already in operation. I’m proud to lead our agency at this critical time.

It’s not possible or appropriate for me to predict where the industry will be in the year 2038 or beyond. We may be looking at how new technological advances, like small modular reactors, have brought nuclear power to regions that could not previously have considered it. We may be reflecting on how the medical isotope production market has changed. We’ll have new construction lessons to consider from all over the world, and decommissioning approaches to contrast as other plants shut down. For those of you who will be the stewards of nuclear regulation and the nuclear industry in the coming decades, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of maintaining the momentum on safety. Whatever the future brings, I believe that one thing is certain. If the nuclear industry is going to be operating effectively at any size – if it’s going to inspire confidence and public trust – then we must keep our focus on safety.

It’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to participate in this important conference, and look forward to hearing from the other panelists and to our discussion. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nuclear Plant Fitness For Duty Testing

These guys figured out how to bypass drug and alcohol testing!

Melissa Ralph
Fitness For Duty Specialist
Watching over a nuclear reactor’s controls or supervising nuclear power plant maintenance are jobs that need a person’s full attention. Nuclear plant workers can’t perform properly if they’re overly tired, dealing with a medical concern or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For those reasons, the NRC has strict “fitness for duty” requirements so companies can spot impaired workers and keep them out of the plant.
Human factors were in the spotlight after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Afterward, we closely examined how human behavior affects nuclear plant safety. In 1989 the agency issued the first fitness for duty rules covering anyone with unescorted access to a nuclear plant, as well as workers whose duties affect safety, security or emergency preparedness.
Drug and alcohol testing is the program’s most obvious feature. New hires are tested before they get access to the plant, and companies must also conduct random, unannounced drug and alcohol tests for workers. The tests must cover a specific minimum set of drugs (including marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines) and companies can expand the test for additional drugs.
The rules also say workers can’t drink alcohol for at least five hours before their shift, and blood alcohol concentrations as low as 0.02 constitute a “positive” test. (For comparison, driving while impaired in the United States requires a 0.08 blood alcohol level.)
Plants must also test on-duty workers if they seem impaired or are behaving oddly, and workers must report anyone they think is impaired to management. Workers who feel impaired from being too tired must report themselves.
Workers are automatically drug and alcohol tested and assessed for being overtired if they’re involved in an onsite accident or event possibly caused by human error. Plants also test workers when they’re working extended shifts. All of these multiple layers of testing help ensure plant workers are fit for duty.
Plants give the NRC information from all these tests regularly. Reviewing this information shows that most of the positive tests – two out of three – comes from pre-access testing. So these impaired individuals never get into the plant. In the other cases the worker’s access is promptly revoked.
What happens to a worker with a positive test? The first bans the worker from the site for at least 14 days; a second revokes the person’s access for five years. If the worker has a third positive test or tries to cheat on a drug test the person is permanent banned from access to the site. Workers who want to restore access after a first or second positive test must go into a treatment program and have follow-up tests.
In 2008, we updated NRC regulations to strengthen the drug and alcohol test requirements and to enhance how companies manage work hours to prevent worker fatigue. Since then, the overall positive test rates have remained steady at about 0.62 percent. Last year 179,135 tests spotted 1,114 cases where a worker was positive for either alcohol or a drug.
We continue to examine new information about fitness for duty, as well as improvements in testing technology. We’re working on proposed updates to our rules based on this information. You can read more about today’s fitness-for-duty requirements on our website.

Monday, November 04, 2013

"We Cannot Let The Rest Of The State Starve"

You get the flavor...we are a city-state or a regional-state...the optics of a locally. We don’t belong to a greater state or nation. It is advertisement, newspaper and media fixation on all profits are local. Screw the greater good.

And so the fixation on the fuel tax and is the political ideological wars. It is a fixation of just thinking up any old excuse to obstruct government until my local ideological needs are met. I got to fee.

This is how our nation is going to collapse.

Contractors: Money is needed to fix N.H. highways

The Associated Press

Sunday, November 3, 2013
(Published in print: Monday, November 4, 2013)

A legislative stalemate over raising the gas tax and legalizing a casino could jeopardize the state’s biggest transportation priority and drive highway contractors out of New Hampshire to look for work in nearby states willing to fund infrastructure improvements.
The New Hampshire House passed a gas tax this year that the Senate killed, while the Senate passed a casino bill that the House rejected. Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement said this week that he’s worried funding won’t be available to finish expanding Interstate 93 – the top priority – as well as make other highway improvements.
“They’ve got to follow the work,” Clement said.
Lawmakers hoping to keep the I-93 project alive say funding must be in place next year to keep contractors from seeking guaranteed work elsewhere. They point to Massachusetts, which has just begun an effort to pump billions of dollars into its transportation network over the next decade.
They’ll try to break the stalemate next year with bills to raise the state’s 18-cent gas and diesel tax and to legalize casino gambling. Some money from a casino could be used for highway projects. The Senate rejected a phased-in, 12-cent increase this year to the tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1991. Details have not been released on the Senate proposal for next year, but its prime sponsor said it won’t be as big of an increase.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say we have a catastrophic situation with our infrastructure,” said House Public Works Chairman David Campbell, who sponsored this year’s defeated gas tax bill.
Campbell and other supporters of increasing funding for roads and bridges are adopting a new tactic for next year. They’re gambling that the House can be swayed to pass a casino bill and that the Senate can be persuaded to increase the gas and diesel tax.
The risk is high that each chamber will stick to its established position and no revenue bill will pass.
That keeps Clement awake at night. The expansion of I-93 from four lanes to six lanes – and potentially eight – from the Massachusetts border to Manchester to ease traffic congestion and spur economic growth will stop, and even if the $250 million needed is later approved, construction won’t be done before the state’s environmental permit expires in 2020, which would lead to further delays and higher costs, he said. Design work on the remaining I-93 sections is being done in hopes money will be available within the next year to begin work in 2015.
The department also will begin running a deficit starting in mid-2015 that could force Clement to lay off up to 600 of his 1,600 workers and reduce services, including how often snowplow trucks complete circuits during storms.
More money is needed – and soon – to keep contractors from migrating to other jobs and to keep the department operating smoothly, Clement said.
“I am revenue agnostic. It doesn’t matter where the revenue comes from,” he said.
Contractors working on I-93 say that whether or when they pull out depends on if there’s money to do the work without leaving them idle waiting. Taxpayers will pay more if the job stalls, contractors said.
If a company already has its heavy equipment at the interstate, it costs less to move the machinery to a new site a few miles away, said Ryan Audley, vice president of R.S., Audley Inc., which is working on the Exit 4 interchange. If the equipment is moved to a new job location and later brought back, the costs for a contract can be hundreds of thousands of dollars higher, he said.
“We will have to go out of New Hampshire to bid projects,” he said.
If lawmakers don’t break the stalemate, Clement says he won’t pour all the state’s limited resources into finishing I-93 when there are so many roads and bridges in need of repair elsewhere.
More than 350 municipal bridges are on the state’s “red list” of structures badly in need of repair or replacement. An additional 140 bridges owned by the state are also on the list. The state has roughly 1,600 miles of state roads in poor condition, 1,900 miles in fair condition and 800 in good condition.
“We cannot let the rest of the state starve on the back of I-93,” he said.