Title: Nuclear Power Whistleblowers Charge Federal Regulators With Favoring Secrecy Over Safety
Source: Huffington Post
Author: Tom Zeller Jr.
Date: Dec. 4, 2012
h/t Anonymous tip
Richard H. Perkins and Larry Criscione are precise and formal men with more than 20 years of combined government and military service. Perkins held posts at the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration before joining the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Division of Risk Analysis in 2008. Criscione landed at the agency a year later, after five years aboard the USS Georgia as a submarine warfare officer.
Now both men are also reluctant whistleblowers, stepping out publicly to accuse the NRC of being both disconcertingly sluggish and inappropriately secretive about severe — and in one case, potentially catastrophic — flood risks at nuclear plants that sit downstream from large dams. [...]
In a letter sent in September 2008, the [Duke Energy] insisted that “there is no evidence to suggest that a Jocassee Dam failure is credible.” NRC officials made clear that they did not agree with that assessment, and in a 2009 response to Duke’s letter, the agency again laid out its concerns. Among them:
- That the [Oconee nuclear] plant’s critical safety equipment is protected from floods only to a height of 5 feet.
- That Duke’s own analysis from 1992 showed flood heights from a failure of the Jocassee Dam ranging between 12 and 17 feet.
- That Duke’s calculations of the odds of a Jocassee Dam failure were low “by an order of magnitude.”
[...] Duke has acknowledged that, given a Jocassee Dam failure with subsequent site inundation, all three Oconee units will go to core damage; that is given a dam failure, the conditional core damage probability is 1.0 [meaning "core damage will certainly occur"].
Published: December 4th, 2012 at 3:10 am ET