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New regulations coming for US nuclear plants 8 years after Fukushima disaster via Washington Examiner

by John Siciliano

Federal regulators are marking the eight-year anniversary of the horrendous tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster that rocked Fukushima, Japan, by issuing major new regulations this spring to harden the U.S. power plant fleet against multiple threats that could lead to similar disasters in the United States. 

The new rules seek to codify individual actions taken by power plant operators at the behest of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the wake of the March 11, 2011, disaster. 

[…]

Since 2012, the NRC has ordered most of the nation’s power plants to construct modifications based on that initial review, and the modifications have continued through the Trump administration. 
The forthcoming post-Fukushima regulation, called the “Mitigation of Beyond-Design-Basis Events rule,” is slated to go into effect this spring, giving utilities and power plant operators a little more than two years to comply with new safety procedures to guard against an incident such as an earthquake, or other event, that could cause a radiation leak and environmental disaster.
The regulation is considered a “major rule” because its cost will exceed $100 million, according to the draft rule’s impact analysis.
The rule will require commercial reactors to do three things that include physically modifying the plants to protect reactor cores while adding new planning and monitoring practices. 
First, power plant owners must put in place the resources and implement the procedures required to keep a reactor’s core cool in the event a power plant’s emergency electricity supply is knocked out. Similar procedures and resources must be adopted to keep fuel rod pools, where a power plant stores its radioactive waste, full of water, following any event that knocks out all of a plant’s emergency power supplies. 
The inability to keep the reactor cores cool at Daiichi, once power was knocked out and emergency power packs drained, resulted in the meltdowns in Japan. 
Second, the power plants must install equipment that can reliably measure the water levels at the pools used to house and cool a power plant’s spent fuel rods. 
Fuel rods are used to generate heat and electricity at a nuclear power plant. When they are used up, but still highly radioactive, they have to be stored underwater until a permanent waste facility is built to house them indefinitely. No national site has been built to house commercial waste from any power plant, so most of the waste is stored locally at the power plant. 
Third, the rule requires the power plants to “reserve the resources” required to protect the core and spent fuel pools from external hazards that may breach the plant’s walls and containment areas.
Two of the five NRC commissioners voted against the measure, saying they didn’t agree that the most current seismic data was used in issuing the regulation, which is meant to be the capstone on the commission’s response to Fukushima.Since 2012, the NRC has ordered most of the nation’s power plants to construct modifications based on that initial review, and the modifications have continued through the Trump administration. 
The forthcoming post-Fukushima regulation, called the “Mitigation of Beyond-Design-Basis Events rule,” is slated to go into effect this spring, giving utilities and power plant operators a little more than two years to comply with new safety procedures to guard against an incident such as an earthquake, or other event, that could cause a radiation leak and environmental disaster.

The regulation is considered a “major rule” because its cost will exceed $100 million, according to the draft rule’s impact analysis.
The rule will require commercial reactors to do three things that include physically modifying the plants to protect reactor cores while adding new planning and monitoring practices. 

First, power plant owners must put in place the resources and implement the procedures required to keep a reactor’s core cool in the event a power plant’s emergency electricity supply is knocked out. Similar procedures and resources must be adopted to keep fuel rod pools, where a power plant stores its radioactive waste, full of water, following any event that knocks out all of a plant’s emergency power supplies. 

The inability to keep the reactor cores cool at Daiichi, once power was knocked out and emergency power packs drained, resulted in the meltdowns in Japan. 

Second, the power plants must install equipment that can reliably measure the water levels at the pools used to house and cool a power plant’s spent fuel rods. 

Fuel rods are used to generate heat and electricity at a nuclear power plant. When they are used up, but still highly radioactive, they have to be stored underwater until a permanent waste facility is built to house them indefinitely. No national site has been built to house commercial waste from any power plant, so most of the waste is stored locally at the power plant. 

Third, the rule requires the power plants to “reserve the resources” required to protect the core and spent fuel pools from external hazards that may breach the plant’s walls and containment areas.
Two of the five NRC commissioners voted against the measure, saying they didn’t agree that the most current seismic data was used in issuing the regulation, which is meant to be the capstone on the commission’s response to Fukushima.

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