After inspecting the abilities of the 104 nuclear reactors operating in the U.S. to deal with power losses or damage to large areas following extreme events, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Friday said “all reactors would be kept safe.” On Monday, it also announced it would scale back monitoring of the Fukushima Daiichi situation because “conditions at the Japanese reactors are slowly stabilizing.”
The federal regulatory body began issuing reports to the nation’s nuclear power plants following inspections in the aftermath of the March 11 quake that imperiled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. “Our inspectors found all the reactors would be kept safe even in the event their regular safety systems were affected by these events, although a few plants have to do a better job maintaining the necessary resources and procedures,” said Eric Leeds, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
According to the NRC, inspectors examined several areas, including the plants’ mitigative strategies, sometimes called “B5b” strategies. NRC regulations call for these strategies to ensure that plants can effectively cool down reactor cores and spent fuel pools following large fires, explosions, or other events. “The resident inspectors also examined the plants’ ability to deal with: the loss of all alternating-current electricity sources; major flooding events; and fires and flooding combined with earthquakes (although this combination is not covered by existing requirements),” the NRC said.
The reactor inspection reports are expected to be made public as soon as they become available, the NRC said.
On Monday, the NRC also announced it would exit “monitoring mode” and transition its response to the Japanese nuclear emergency from its 24-hour operations center to its Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR).
The NRC activated its headquarters-based Operations Center on March 11 in response to the events at Fukushima. Since that time, staff from throughout the agency supported the U.S. government’s response, including staff dispatched to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
“As conditions have continued to improve and the Japanese continue to implement their recovery plan, the NRC has determined that it is time to adjust our response,” said Executive Director for Operations Bill Borchardt.
A team in NRR will assume the responsibility of supporting the NRC staff members in Japan at the U.S. Embassy, and will coordinate response efforts with federal and industry partners, the NRC said.
Sources: POWERnews, NRC