Fukushima: NO "Lessons Learned": NRC Commissioners vote down their staff recommendation
- NRC Commissioners vote down their staff recommendation for filtered vent on unreliable Mark I and II containment
NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR
For Immediate Release: March 19, 2013
Contact: Paul Gunter, 301-523-0201 (mobile)
Nuclear Regulator Majority Vote Disregards Agency Staff
Safety Recommendation on Unreliable Mark I and II Containment.
Decision requires hardened vent without filter
Takoma Park, MD — The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) has voted to disregard a recommendation from its own Japan Lessons Learned Task Force and professional staff that nuclear reactor
operators should be ordered to install high-capacity radiation filters
at 23 Mark I and 8 Mark II nuclear power reactors in the United States.
“These are inherently dangerous and flawed reactors but radiation
filters installed on more robust vent lines would at least provide a
significant additional layer to the defense-in-depth,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight Project for Beyond Nuclear, based in
Takoma Park, MD.
“This is fundamentally a Fukushima lesson unlearned,” Gunter added.
“We all watched the Fukushima accident in horror as Japanese operators
were unable to manage one containment failure after another. This was in large part because TEPCO was not prepared to manage the release of
pressure, heat, hydrogen gas and high levels of radioactivity from the
damaged fuel cores,” he said.
The NRC staff had recommended the agency issue an Order to require
high capacity filters be installed on severe accident capable vents on
the Fukushima-design unreliable reactor containment systems by December
The Commission vote allows for upgrading accident capable vents on
the Mark I and II reactors but falls seriously short of the staff
recommendation to restore a significant measure of containment integrity by requiring radiation filtration systems as have been installed for
many years on most European reactors.
The NRC Commissioners voted 4-1 against installing the filters by
Order. Chairwoman Macfarlane supported the filter installation by Order. Commissioners Ostendorf, Magwood, Apostolakis voted in favor of the
filter strategy but by a lengthy process of rulemaking that portends
years more delay with an uncertain future. Commissioner Svinicki voted
against the Order for a filtered vent.
“The Commission’s majority vote potentially ties reactor operators’
hands behind their backs if an accident were to occur in the coming
years,” Gunter said. “Venting an accident without a filter will mean
fire-hosing downwind communities with massive amounts of radiation.
“While the NRC and
industry are spinning the outcome of this vote as a ‘delay’ on a
decision on the filtered vent, in fact, it is a flat out denial of
public safety in the interest of saving the nuclear industry some
money,” Gunter continued.
"The nuclear industry will score financial gains from this decision but the cost should be
paid by the loss of NRC's regulatory integrity,” he concluded.
In voting for the filtered vent, NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane
was the only Commissioner supporting her technical staff’s judgment and
recommendation to move forward with an ORDER tohttp://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2013/3/19/nrc-commissioners-vote-down-their-staff-recommendation-for-f.html industry. She concluded
that “all of the available data suggests that the installation of
hardened vents is a prudent and appropriate safety enhancement that is
within the NRC’s current regulatory framework.” The Commission vote and
notation sheet can be read at:
There are 23 Mark I boiling water reactors in the US and 8 Mark II boiling water reactors that are subject of this Commission vote.
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