CERAWeek: Nuke complaints without fear of reprisal

A few of the challenges at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to commissoner Peter Lyons:
The globalization of the nuclear supply chain makes it increasingly important for regulatory bodies to coordinate for consistency of standards. The NRC has found counterfeit parts repeatedly, and quality control problems stopped many projects in the past. (The South Texas Project was one.)
Increasing security threats have led to new requirements at plants. “We’re confident in the adequacy at nuclear plants today and new designs will improve security,” he said.
It’s not a simple issue, however, Lyons said. Locks on doors can keep people out of areas they shouldn’t be in but they can also slow down plant workers that need to get to an area in an emergency.
He also said plants need strong safety cultures that cannot be measured only by numbers. That’s why workers need to be allowed to raise safety concerns without fear of reprisal.
About spent fuel storage: The NRC still expects that to happen at Yucca Mountain. But the many years of problems with the project has led to greater consideration of reprocessing spent fuel (making it usable in plants again), which isn’t done in the U.S. now. The NRC would “probably be the regulator” for such facilities, he said.

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