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The ‘hearing’ starts — not very reassuring about NRC oversight

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"The ‘hearing’ starts — not very reassuring about NRC oversight"

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NRC Chair Klein: Streamlined licensing [in the 2005 Energy Policy bill, I think] is not happening yet because all the new nuke proposals (but one) use designs that are not certified.

[Jargon alert: COL stands for combined Construction and Operating License (COL). "The COL process is a 'one-step' licensing process by which nuclear plant public health and safety concerns are resolved prior to commencement of construction, and NRC approves and issues a license to build and operate a new nuclear power plant."]

NRC’s Lyons: New reactor designs may be better, but requires more NRC funds for analysis/oversight.

NRC’s Svinicki: [pronounced "Savenicki"]. She’s new. She’s working harder than when she was a Senate staffer.

First Round of Questions

Voinovich — 3.5 years for new design review is a lot. What is impact of continuing resolution (CR)?

Lyons — Challenging if CR goes beyond February. Will slow new design review. France has a more standard process. We have more vendors.

NRC’s Jaczko: Will have trouble beating 3.5 years. AP1000 has outstanding issues. As do other designs. GE came in with a modification of their design. CR might stop all review of new designs.

Lautenberg: 2007 IG said NRC doesn’t keep records of audits/review applications. Is that right?

NRC’s Jaczko: Maybe. Auditors don’t keep their notes (!!).

Klein: IG says it found no weakness in technical review [Lautenberg: weakness is in the "audit trail."]

Now I’m really interested in hearing what Hubert Bell, NRC’ inspector general, has to say on my panel. Wonder if anyone but Carper will stay to question him?

Lautenberg: Oyster Creek relicensing — NRC didn’t use the best (3D) technology for analysis until an outside group raised the issue.

Klein: Oyster Creek is under NRC review. I can’t discuss it.

Man, it’s already 11:20. I’m gonna be here a while! Probably won’t be speaking until noonish.

Inhofe: We’re getting bogged down in details.

Safety is apparently a “detail” for Inhofe.

Lautenberg leaves. Sen. Cardin is here.

Sen. Sanders: Fine for Entergy for this mishap [shows picture of water tower bursting]?

Jaczko: No.

Sanders: Public would be surprised. Yucca ain’t never gonna happen. Why talk about dozens of new plants until we have storage problem solved.

Lyons: Dry cask storage — NRC has highest confidence. Is that appropriate national policy? Not for NRC to decide.

Sanders: Staff tells me new nukes could cost $20 billion is a hell of a lot of money. Is that right?

NRC: We don’t do economics. Simply not our business…. $20 billion may be right for twin units.

Sanders leaves. Alas.

Craig: Nukes producing hydrogen. Process heat.

Ain’t gonna happen, Larry. Hydrogen is a dead end and no factory wants to be located near enough to a nuke for cogeneration to work.

Almost noon — only two Senators left, Carper and Voinovich.

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4 Responses to The ‘hearing’ starts — not very reassuring about NRC oversight

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Off-topic, but Big Oil gets its subsidies as well:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/03/price-of-oil-hidden-oil-s_n_110606.html

  2. Linda Siska says:

    Food for thought — from an article in The Guardian, August, 2003, describing the problems France encountered generating nuclear power during the infamous European heatwave:

    “Demand for electricity has soared as the population turns up air conditioning and fridges, but nuclear power stations, which generate around 75% of France’s electricity, have been operating at a much reduced capacity and several reactors have stopped working entirely.

    In some regions, river water levels have dropped so low that the vital cooling process has become impossible, while elsewhere the water temperatures after the cooling process have exceeded environmental safety levels.

    An exceptional exemption from the legal requirements was granted to six nuclear reactors and a number of conventional power stations, allowing them to discharge water one degree hotter than normal.

    In another attempt to conserve energy for the nation, France, which is Europe’s main electricity exporter, cut its power exports by more than half yesterday.

    The environment minister, Roselyne Bachelot, said “sizeable blackouts” were still possible and called on consumers to cut back consumption. Air conditioning at her ministry was switched off as an example.”

  3. Jay Alt says:

    Links to Real Player witness testimony and .pdf statements -

    Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing, Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Licensing and Relicensing Processes for Nuclear Plants.
    July 16, 2008 EPW Hearing Room – 406 Dirksen

  4. Jay Alt says:

    try again, but this time with feeling -
    Links to Real Player witness testimony and .pdf statements -

    Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing,
    Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Licensing and Relicensing Processes for Nuclear Plants.

    July 16, 2008 EPW Hearing Room – 406 Dirksen