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NRC to discuss spent fuel and severe weather

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Spent fuel and severe weather events will be the topics of discussion at two Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) briefings next week. The first briefing will cover spent fuel pool safety. The consideration and safety concerns regarding the expedited transfer of spent fuel to dry cask storage will also be discussed. The second meeting will review design plans regarding flooding and other severe weather events. There will also be a lessons learned discussion regarding flooding at Oyster Creek after Hurricane Sandy.

External panelists for the first meeting include: Dave Heacock, President and Chief Nuclear Officer for Dominion Nuclear; Christine King, Director of Nuclear Fuel and Chemistry for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); Gordon Thompson, Executive Director of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies and Research Professor at Clark University; and Ed Lyman, Senior Scientists for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

External panelists for the second meeting include: Robert DeNight, Operations Director for Salem Nuclear Generating Station; Stuart Lewis, Program Manager of Risk and Safety Management for the EPRI; Chandra S Pathak, Senior Hydraulic Engineer, Engineering and Construction Branch for the US Army Corps; Geoff Bonnin, Chief of the Hydrologic Science and Modeling Branch of the Office of Hydrologic Development for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service; Lance Vail, Senior Research Engineer for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; and David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Two public meetings will be held on Tuesday, 6 January. The briefings will be held in the Commission Hearing Room at 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD. The commission meetings will be open to public observation and will be webcast. The spent fuel briefing will begin at 9 a.m. and last approximately three hours. The flooding briefing will begin at 1:30 p.m. and last approximately three and a half hours.

In November, the NRC held a webinar to discuss how dry spent fuel storage is regulated and inspected to ensure the public and environment are protected. All US nuclear power plants, including nearby Three Mile Island and Peach Bottom, store spent fuel in spent pools. The older spent fuel is moved into dry cask storage once the pools are filled. The dry casks must be able to withstand earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, and other extremes.

The NRC oversees 104 commercial nuclear power reactors in 31 states at 65 different sites. It also reviews the emergency preparedness procedures and training. Local emergency management staff are trained to handle hazmat, radiology and civil confusion that might arise in the event of an emergency.

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