Democrat Senators Ask NRC For Safety Review Of All US Nuclear Plants

Tyler Durden's picture

Ironically, hot on the heels of the earlier report by the Union of Concerned Scientists that the NRC had been lax in its oversight of various US nuclear facilities, noting the Indian Point NPP where the UCS alleged there had been a potentially dangerous seal leak since 1993, two democratic senators have asked the NRC to review the safety of all US Nuclear Plants.

From Reuters:

Two Democratic senators said they have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review the capacity of the country's nuclear plants to withstand disasters in the wake of the Japan crisis.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Tom Carper asked for the review in a letter to the chairman of the NRC, Gregory Jaczko.

Ironically it was the very same Jaczko who stepped up earlier telling a commission that it could take weeks to resolve Japan's nuclear crisis. This is arguably the understatement of the day.

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prophet's picture

What happens if a fully operating reactor suffers an immediate loss of all power for two hours?

JLee2027's picture

What do you think? It starts to melt down

etrader's picture

JPY is coiling for a move to the downside, so somethings going on over there.

redpill's picture

Depends on the design.  Later models of the boiling water reactors used in Japan and the US have a safer system which does not require electricity for water circulation following a shut-down, the system automatically circulates water based upon the natural flow of hot water/steam rising, and drawing water in from below.

There will undoubtedly be a call to modernize plants with outdated designs and safety systems, so if there is a niche player that could benefit from such contracts it would be a good play; although with you-know-who in the WH they will probably all go to GE.

New_Meat's picture

RCIC and turbine driven aux feedwater pumps are mechanical governor and don't require electrical power.  'course, the condensate storage tank can't be leaking due to seismic or other event.

And yep, GE-H consortium and Toshiba-san will be doing the work, esp. since Toshiba bought CE+(W) a while back.  See SHAW take it in the shorts.

- Ned

Bearster's picture

If Congress passes laws that distort markets with perverse incentives, and appoints people who produce nothing to have absolute power to control those who try to produce, and creates a system of crooked backroom dealings, can Barney Frank and Chris Dodd come to the rescue?

chunkylover42's picture

Here is my question: a lot of these nuclear plants are 30+ years old and use older technology and procedures when it comes to safety issues.  Is there any difference or improvement on these safety items for newer plant designs?  My sense (guess, really) is the newer plants are safer, but I honestly don't know much about the topic. 

If this is the case, it would be ironic if green groups preventing the construction of new plants that have better safety and disaster prevention measures forced us to rely on older plants that are inherently more dangerous as they age.

prophet's picture

The one thing that I have found striking is that some new designs do not need power to continue cooling.

Andy_Jackson_Jihad's picture

Pebble bed reactors are inherently safe from meltdown.  From my limited understanding, the danger is in that the fuel mass is dense enough to melt itself from its own radiated energy.  Pebble beds are like a gumball machine full of pellets:  Even if all the coolant drains they have enough space between them to avoid heating to the point of melting.

My question is:  There is no manual overide for particle absorbtion?  The original acronym for SCRAM was safety control rod axe man ....a dude litterally holding an axe to cut a rope that would drop the control rods in to stop the reaction.  Perhaps that technology/method is way older than 30 years?


trav7777's picture

that's actually a backronym for SCRAM.

They already have the control rods full in..that happened as a result of the quake.  The issue now is residual heat, and that issue is the same for contained rods in the core as for uncontained rods in SFPs.

New_Meat's picture

trav: decay heat removal == peak oil == fiat money fractional reserve == concepts that some will never grok.

- Ned

{and yes, Enrico was much too much a gentleman to say gtf outta' Dodge.  I wonder what it would have sounded like in his broken "Eng-'talian". }

Diogenes's picture

Thorium reactors are much safer, and more efficient, than anything in use today. They will even use up the uranium in "spent" fuel rods from conventional reactors, in other words you could recycle all the spent fuel rods now in storage and get more energy out of them than they did the first time around.

The spent uranium from a Thorium reactor is over 90% depleted compared to 1% in a conventional reactor.

Some reactors, like the Canadian CANDU, can use the Thorium process now. But reactors designed specifically for Thorium fuel would be much more efficient as well as safer.

Do a search for Thorium reactors and see for yourself.

Threeggg's picture

Just Out !!!!

Jamie Dimon Going to Tokyo !!!!

He is bringing printer refill cartridges for JPM so they can help Goose the Nikkei 225 tonight !


treasurefish's picture

So much for the Peak Ink theory.

tony bonn's picture

a review is certainly in order but not one done by the hacks and quacks at the nrc....

djsmps's picture

The San Onofre plant can withstand a 7.0 quake. That should be enough.

DaveyJones's picture

now say that in Japanese

AN0NYM0US's picture

meanwhile this report from a non biased source e.g. at least as non biased as the anti nuke enviro extremist experts club frequently quoted by GW and others here (nor part of the MSM that also appears to be cheerleading and whipping Americans into a panic of an incident some 5,000-8,000 miles away:



Fukushima Daiichi
The reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are in stable condition and are being cooled with seawater, but workers at the plant continue efforts to add cooling water to fuel pools at reactors 3 and 4.

The status of the reactors at the site is as follows:


Fenlander's picture

The Fukushima "events" are going to cause the entire western world to re-think their energy strategies, irrespective of whether it eventually fizzles out, or goes even more spectacularly wrong.  Compared with Three Mile Island, or even Chernobyl, we live in an entirely different, fully connected, 24/7, socially networked world that's full of "green concerned" voters.  It may not matter if these green-concerned people are sheeple and can't think their way out of a mass conundrum involving peak oil and wind/wave/hydro just not being ready for prime time, they're VOTERS.


Look at what has already happened:  Merkel turning off some German reactors, most nuclear nations in Europe announcing immediate safety reviews, China and Russia back-pedalling on previously announced nuclear plans, even Iran talking nuclear safety.  If the Japanese - who most regard as among the safest and most credible nations in the world when it comes to nuclear safety - can allow Fukushima to get into its current condition, then no credibility is going to be allowed for any other nation.


Energy security into the 2020s - if it was not already high among national concerns - is surely now front and centre.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Fenlander, probably not going to be a 2020's, at least not the way we know the world today.

In fact, I can say that with a great degree of certainty.


Fenlander's picture

While I'm with most here on ZH about what a screwed up world we're living in, I think I'm less inclined to the view that it is so unstable (in any sense, politically, financially, available resources) that it is all going to go belly up in the next couple of years.  My timeline is about 10 years before I think we are going to see epoch-changing events.  I could easily be wrong - and I hope I'm not.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Fenlander, I think it will definitely not be the world we know (and I don't love too much) today. 

Too many things we take for granted are at breaking point, Fukushima being emblematic.


trav7777's picture

I dunno why anybody who frequents this site would think that these moves are anything other than political CYA.

There's no alternative here for electricity.  Even with solar and wind out the yin yang, you still need backup generation.  Unless you plan to burn some fossil fuel or you have some good rivers to dam (not environmentally safe either), you use nuke plants.

BetTheHouse's picture

Well, golly.  In that NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko used to be a top aide to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, I have a funny feeling that this request by two Democratic Senators will be fulfilled.  But maybe I'm getting cynical in my old age.

Gene Parmesan's picture

Cynicism is the proper response for anything that has Boxer's name on it.

Mercury's picture

Good heavens - time to give Bruce Krasting the keys to the ZH bunker!

sodbuster's picture

Mr Fox- Please check on the chicken coop.


This is precisely what is wrong with the federal government- EVERY fed agency is held captive by the industries they are supposed to regulate. EVERY fed agency is run by people that have worked for corporations, that agency is supposed to over-see.

But health care will be different- yeah right.


Ruffcut's picture

Shit, don't the dipshitcrats have a phone.

They could of just called the nuke lobbiests and said they were "short on cash".

WHy all the fuss?

Fortunes Favor's picture

Sounds like the moratorium on drilling last year. Meanwhile drilling goes forward today in the Gulf.

Japan Tragedy & Gulf of Mexico BP Spill Follow Similar News Cycle / Precious Metals Outlook @

Ray Elliott's picture

So it is a meltdown, so what?

The possibility of a nuclear explosion is zero.  A nuclear explosion requires a far greater concentration of U235 than the four percent that is in those reactors.  The worst that can happen are eruptions of steam and radioactive debris that can cause contamination in a relatively small area.  At most three or four people may lose their lives from the reactors.  So far, none have died.

The real disaster is the media's ignorance and hype about the nuclear aspects while ignoring the real disaster of the ten thousand plus that may have lost thier lives from the earthquake tsunami.


ebworthen's picture


At least two if not three of the reactor cores are in melt down.

Not a nuclear explosion, but the coating on the rods degrades as heat goes up, then the radioactivity is released into the air (atmosphere).

You can't see it or smell it, but it will cook you the closer you are.

Long term it means no energy coming from that plant, a 30-100 Kilometer dead zone around it, and building stone tombs over what is left of the reactors.


trav7777's picture

no, that's not how it works.

Radiation is being emitted from radioactive substances, all of which are in the plant complex.  The substances that have gone into the air are primarily I-137 which has a relatively short half-life.

So long as that is ALL that is going into the atmosphere the long-term physical effects will be minimal.  Thus far, that's it.

The real risk is of a FIRE that would being spewing other, more dangerous radioactive substances into the air.  This is what happened at Chernobyl.

Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

after a saftey test started the entire Chernobyl meltdown and almost the meltdown at TMI.

The key is to institute more safety procedures,

New_Meat's picture

"Ironically, hot on the heels..."

Not ironic, there are no coincidences.

- Ned

MayorofCape's picture

I currently work in the nuclear power industry I can tell you first hand that NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko is nothing more than an anti-nuke stooge appionted by Obama.  He has been in the back pocket of Anti-Nuclear groups since he started working against Yucca Mtn as a young activist in Nevada.  He has also been a champion for imposing rediculous fire regulations on the industry, without clearly defining regulatory expectations, resulting in endless boondogles for contractors, and no real added safety value.  Is it any wonder Harry Reid would want someone such as him to work in his office? Also, is it any wonder why Obama would want an anti-nuclear activist to chair the NRC (and DOE for that matter)?

Greenhead's picture

Oil pricles up due to Uncle Bernanke and trouble in MENA, nuclear power generation now suspect and in USA Today, an article saying the EPA will impose new emission controls on coal fired electricity generating plants.  Meanwhile, the outlook for the American publics expenditures on all forms of energy not looking favorable.  Green agenda??

ebworthen's picture


I think only the Amish have a good answer to this problem.


AbandonShip's picture

If you can't learn from your own mistakes, at least learn from others'

Thorny Xi's picture

ZH editors - please note that there's no such thing as a "Democrat Senator."  The party is actually named the "Democratic" party, not the "Democrat" party. Always has been.  Get off the FOX News Newspeak wagon.  And while we're at it, why are there 10 times more references to "spent fuel rods" in a Google news search than "radioactive waste," which is what we're talking about here?  More newspeak.  ZH is not a political party organ, nor is it the voice of GE and Westinghouse.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

Q. Should it be "the Democratically controlled Senate" or "the Democratic-controlled Senate"? – from Los Angeles on Thu, Jan 08, 2009
A. The second usage is customary.
The tendency with "ic" adjectives, when paired with another adjective form, is to go with the "ically" form as the stronger grammatical construct of an adverb modifying an adjective. But "Democratically," notwithstanding the capital D, then starts for some people to implicate derivatives of "democracy" in the broader sense than the party. (If you want to read an impassioned, down-and-dirty, name-calling argument over this, check here - .)


jkruffin's picture

Just read an article that said people boarding planes to leave Japan are setting off radiation detectors.  NOT GOOD!!!

Also, another article said officials in the U.S. stated the situation in Japan is worse than first thought.  Ya think?

This is just another event that is going to end badly.  How the markets are up on things like this and a spike in consumer prices,is completely a travesty. These markets are a travesty.

Motorhead's picture

Just seeing Barbara Boxer's name makes me f'in nauseous.


P-K4's picture

"....ask to review the capacity of the country's nuclear plants to withstand disasters." So far we've withstood the financial disasters of FRE & FNMA, the political disaster of a democratic controlled presidency and congress, a worldwide (collapse of) leadership disaster, a Wall Street annihilation of sound banking disaster, the EPA over-regulation disaster, a Y2K disaster, a 9/11 disaster, Girls Gone Wild, Charlier Sheen on the loose, etc.

...I'd say we're pretty safe. Wait a minute, do those nuke plants employ any SIEU members ?

notadouche's picture

Which is more palatable, oil spill or nuclear melt down?  We have to have energy and being human means we will have accidents so which is more tolerated by our eco sensitve global warming believing friends.  Oil or Nuclear?  Which disaster is better handled by our universe?  Given the total lack of coverage of the gulf spill, for whatever reason, I'd have to believe oil spills are nothing compared to nuclear accidents,  right? 

Diamond Jim's picture

it is all another way for the Obamoids to bring this economy to its knees, and join the world "collective". It all is a part of his agenda: one drilling permit okayed in the Gulf; proclamations that oil companies use the leases they already have even though they can't get oil out at either enough quantity or it is not economically practical; c(r)ap and trade; ditch nuke reactors for power; build wind mills for Don Quixote: put up solar panels..... lots of "green" jobs for everyone. No power sources, no energy policy and we get to become a second rate power. All adds up to me....

Westcoastliberal's picture

What a farce!  You mean the same "industry captive" agency the NRC is going to "review" the nuke plants in the U.S.?  Give me a break.  These plants aren't any safer than the ones melting down in Japan.  Does anyone think for a second that ANY U.S. nuke plant will be taken offline for "safety concerns"?  Hell no!  And isn't it ironic how the U.S. is playing devil's advocate with the situation in Japan?  Reverse the roles and the U.S. government would be spewing more lies than the Japanese.

This will have the same result as the Gulf gusher, nada.