Dave Lochbaum, director, Nuclear Safety Project | April 13, 2017, 6:00 am EDT
Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station near Richland, Washington has one General Electric boiling water reactor (BWR/5) with a Mark II containment design that began operating in 1984. In the late morning hours of Sunday, December 18, 2016, the station stopped generating electricity and began generating problems.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) dispatched a special inspection team to investigate the event after determining it could have increased the risk of reactor core damage by a factor of ten. The NRC team sought to understand the problems occurring during this near-miss as well as assess the breadth and effectiveness of the solutions proposed by the company for them…
Yet another special inspection on transporting radioactive material in Nov 2016.
Special Inspection #2
Two special inspections in about a month. One wonders if the NRC can call up a special inspection on their whim. In other words, a lot of secret non-documented violations occur at the plant as the price of doing business. Then the NRC can pull up from a huge bank of non-disclosed but known violations as a tool to perform a particular purpose.
Why do we always do this? This accident is contextual. Why don't whistleblowers ever get the credit they deserve. Here is where whistleblowers went to the press saying the plant is in more trouble than Columbia or the NRC understands. The NRC in response said the plant is safe. They had a big internal investigation basically saying there are communication problems, but no big problems. I am just saying, out of the whole highly paid lot of them officialdom, the closest one to the anticipating and knowing the future truth was the Columbia Whistleblowers. I will guarantee you, if there were no Columbia whistleblowers, there would be no special inspection. The NRC is terrorized by these whistleblowers. I guarantee to you, the NRC never even for one second, forgot they had unknown knowledgeable whistleblowers simmering at the plant. That special inspection was set up to protect the NRC if things got worst at the plant. I find it despicable you didn’t put the Columbia whistleblower context into explaining the setup of this accident.
I was in a similar situation at Vermont Yankee in 1991. I was leaking documents (stealing) and talking with media. Talking to the governor…she came out on a podium and made big my issues at the plant. Like I said, big internal investigations and NRC investigations. I thought nothing really big is changing as the process played out, they were doing their same lying and falsifying documents as the NRC was breathing down their necks. I thought maybe there is a delay in the atmosphere change we all expected. About a year after getting the governor on the podium, VY had the worst accident in the life of the plant. We had a LOOP on taking shortcuts and not following procedures in switchyard, with insufficient cooling water flow to the diesel generators. The control was in a mess during the event. A lot of equipment showed as degraded or broken in this accident.
This was when my great disillusionment with how the world works began. All the internal and NRC investigations was just showboating for the public appeasement. There was no intention of ever changing a thing at plant.