Top DOE official, experts head to the Hill to discuss industry's fate
A top Obama administration official and industry experts are slated to meet with House members this week to discuss the future of U.S. nuclear reactors, a power source facing tough market conditions and what some say is unfair treatment under U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan.
A House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee, chaired by pro-uranium-mining Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, will hear testimony Thursday from Pete Lyons, the Energy Department's assistant secretary at the Office of Nuclear Energy, and Daniel Lipman, the executive director of policy development at the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Chairwoman faces tough questions, partisan spats in last Hill hearing
Allison Macfarlane's last appearance today on Capitol Hill as chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was marked with a lengthy grilling from a top Democrat and a partisan spat over Democrats' off-the-floor approval yesterday of a controversial NRC nominee.
Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, the outgoing chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, took Macfarlane to task for the agency's oversight of nuclear plants in her home state of California. Boxer accused the agency of withholding documents from Congress and moving too slowly to make safety upgrades following the 2011 disaster in Japan. She also said the NRC is joining forces with Russia to block a European proposal that requires nuclear plants be protected against severe earthquakes and natural disasters.
Nuclear industry faults 'fundamentally flawed' EPA power plan
The nuclear industry's largest trade group called U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan "fundamentally flawed" and called for the proposal to be reworked to ensure that the country's 100 nuclear plants stay open.
The Nuclear Energy Institute -- officially weighing in on the proposal for the first time -- told EPA that while the proposed regulations under the Clean Air Act's Section 111(d) recognize the need for carbon-free nuclear power, the proposal does little to help make that happen.
Violations at Fla. plant highlight NRC concerns over flooding emergencies
On Jan. 9, a freak storm dumped a record rainfall on central Florida's Treasure Coast, inundating the St. Lucie nuclear power plant facing the Atlantic Ocean. Storm drains failed, and 50,000 gallons of water flooded the plant's Unit 1 reactor auxiliary building through improperly sealed electrical passages, disabling core cooling pumps. The incident surprised and jarred the NRC, which has made flooding threats to U.S. reactors a top regulatory priority following the 2011 tsunami at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.
Had the reactor tripped during that storm, all of the emergency core cooling pumps would have been submerged. Under that scenario, "after 24 hours, the plant would not achieve a 'safe and stable' condition and reactor core would be damaged, unless emergency recovery action succeeded," according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission notice of violation against the St. Lucie plant owner, Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. The NRC notified FPL on Nov. 19 that it would be subject to increased safety inspections because of the violations.