NRC prioritizes industry responses to request for Post-Fukushima flood hazard evaluations

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has updated part of its March 12 request for information from all U.S. nuclear power plants, setting out a schedule for completing flooding hazard re-evaluations recommended by the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force, which examined lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident.

“The information in front of us today shows U.S. plants are capable of safely handling the most likely floods at their sites. These re-evaluations will help us better understand the very unlikely flooding that could occur in the future,” said Eric Leeds, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. “We’ve publicly discussed the prioritization process several times since we issued the information request, and this schedule provides a solid path towards getting the work done correctly and efficiently.”

The prioritization schedule, outlined in a letter to every plant owner, gives plants one, two or three years to complete the hazard evaluations. The letter will be available in the NRC’s electronic documents database, ADAMS, under accession number ML12097A510. The order of prioritization is based on three criteria:

– How complex is the re-evaluation? For instance, sites involving multiple upstream dam failures, storm surge, tsunami hazard, or large watersheds would be placed later in the schedule.

– What resources are (or would be) available, both from the plant to complete the evaluation and from the NRC to review it? For instance, if multiple plants are on the same river, upstream plants would be prioritized ahead of those downstream.

– Site-specific insights; for instance, if a plant is co-located with an Early Site Permit or Combined License location that has already done a similar evaluation, that would prioritize the plant earlier in the schedule.

The evaluation results could lead to further assessment of potential flooding effects at the plants.

The NRC continues to evaluate and act on the lessons learned from Fukushima to ensure U.S. nuclear power plants implement appropriate safety enhancements. Following direction from the agency’s five Commissioners, the NRC’s activities are being led by a steering committee comprised of senior NRC management.

The agency has also established the Japan Lessons-Learned Project Directorate, a group of more than 20 full-time employees focused exclusively on implementing NTTF recommendations and related activities.