NRC wants info on extreme situations

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has asked U.S. nuclear power plant operators for information on how the plants are complying with requirements to deal with the loss of large areas of the plant after extreme events.

The events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, have highlighted the potential for U.S. plants to implement mitigative strategies, sometimes called “B5b” strategies.

The NRC is collecting information on the plants’ approach to ensuring their strategies remain effective over time. The NRC said these strategies can effectively cool down reactor cores and spent fuel pools even if a plant’s normal safety systems are damaged or unavailable.

“We’ll review the plants’ responses to see if they need to take any additional actions to meet our existing requirements, along with seeing what the NRC might need to do to enhance those requirements and continue to protect public health and safety,” said NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. “Our task force examining information from the Japan quake will also go over the Bulletin responses as part of its ongoing review of our requirements.”

Plants have until June 10 to respond with information confirming their mitigative-strategy equipment is in place and available, as well as that the strategies can be carried out with current plant staffing.

Plants have until July 11 to respond with further information including:

• How essential resources are maintained, tested and controlled to ensure availability

• How strategies are re-evaluated if plant conditions or configurations change

• How arrangements are reached and maintained with local emergency response organizations.

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