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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 27, 2011

 
Exceptionally confident

by digby

Oh good:

The disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in Japan prompted some people to contend that since U.S. reactors have Severe Accident Management Guidelines (SAMGs) they are less susceptible to disaster.

A recent NRC audit of SAMGs at the nation’s nuclear power plants, however, suggests otherwise.One of the lessons from the 1979 Three Mile Island accident was that U.S. nuclear plants needed better emergency procedures for and training of control room operators. Two sets of procedures were developed.

The first set was the Emergency Procedure Guidelines (EPGs), which were introduced in June 1980 to help the operators respond to emergencies at the plants. These emergencies included transients (e.g., unplanned reactor shut downs) and accidents (e.g., pipe breaks that drained cooling water from the reactor vessel). The NRC licenses control room operators, and to obtain a license, operator candidates must demonstrate proficiency on the EPGs both on written exams and in control room simulator exercises.

The second set was the SAMGs. They were first introduced in June 1996 to back up the EPGs for severe or unusual events – those involving multiple failures of safety equipment or unanticipated accident sequences. For example, the EPGs lay out various means of supplying water to the reactor vessel to cool the nuclear core. If none of those options are available, the SAMGs take over to provide options like flooding the containment structure around the reactor vessel with water to a level above the top of the core.

Unlike for the EPGs, candidates for NRC operator licenses need not demonstrate any knowledge whatsoever of the SAMGs and their application.

The nuclear industry developed the SAMGs, but they are voluntary. So the NRC can monitor them but cannot force the industry to take them seriously.


Well that certainly makes me feel a lot better.

The idea that the US has taken an "it can't happen here" stance is absurd. It's not as if Japan is a third world banana republic rife with systemic corruption and a cost cutting, short term business ethos like well ... us. And yet it happened there and the worst of it was the fault of the company and government refusing to do what was necessary to contain the damage because of the costs involved. So you tell me just how secure we ought to feel in the great US of A that those things are being "voluntarily" done here. According to the article --- they aren't.


By the way, Japanese kids in the Fukishima area now have a cool new necklace they have to wear:



H/t to BagNews who wrote:

Bag’s Take-Away:

Was waiting for it to happen: Fukushima Prefecture kids get their own portable dosimeters. (Any similarity to the iPod, I assume, is strictly coincidental.)


Update: I guess it's a good thing these Mississippi floods are happening slowly because it's giving this Nebraska nuclear plant some time to read their emergency manuals. No word on whether they are learning anything from it.


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