Tuesday, March 5, 2013

UCS annual NRC and nuclear safety report

Good Day:

Attached is the stand-alone executive summary and full report for "The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2012: Tolerating the Intolerable." They are being released on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at noon eastern time and we ask that the information be embargoed until then.

On March 11, 2011, I was on Capitol Hill to brief Congressional staffers on what was then the first in an annual series of reports on the NRC and nuclear safety. Since then, I've learned two things:
1) Try not to schedule briefings a few hours after major international nuclear disasters.
2) An annual series of reports means you gotta do one every year.

As in past reports, this year's report contains a section summarizing the "near-misses" last year - times when an event or discovery at a plant prompted the NRC to dispatch a team to investigate what happened and why. The NRC reported on 14 such near-misses in 2012.

Our report also contains a section on commendable outcomes achieved by the NRC last year. The NRC's hosting an international conference on security last December tops the list in our book.

We also have a somewhat longer section detailing bad outcomes last year. Topping, or bottoming, that section was the latest safty culture survey of the NRC's work force. The survey revealed a huge gap between how NRC's senior managers viewed things and how the NRC's rank and file viewed them --- the senior managers seeing no problems across the board. Could explain why the NRC "tolerates the intolerable" - nothing is intolerable when you don't give a damn.

For the first time, this year's report contains a trending section with observations from the three annual reports. Special recognition goes out to the Wolf Creek nuclear plant with four near-misses in three years - it hasn't missed a year yet. Like the Wizard of Oz being re-run every year, Wolf Creek having a near-miss each year has become tradition.


Dave Lochbaum

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