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 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.