1. Reminds me of the joke about seeing how sausage gets made…

    Typically, the NRC won’t release “work in progress” materials for exactly this reason. It is easy to take a single statement in an email out of context (or proportion).

    The NRC also has internal processes to ensure that if someone feels like their concern is being ignored, that the situation gets resolved.

    Releasing random emails under FOIA of people pondering fragments of “what if” scenarios just stirs the pot, which I guess is what certain senators enjoy doing.

  2. This is so spot on. From day one in the nuclear program I was taught to never stop questioning and never be afraid to express my opinions.

    I am reminded of when the ELT division would have continuing training, that no matter how cut an dried the topic, it would turn into a civil argument about the meaning of every word in NAVSEA 389-0152. And no two ELT’s every had exactly the same understanding.

    1. Based on my time as CRA, I would bet that 0152 was not the only book that you argued about. 389-0153 came in for its share of controversy.

      Now if only I could remember which one was the chemistry manual and which one was the radcon manual… Oh so much water under the bridge since those days with Chaz Fryberger as the LELT.

  3. This sounds like how a dispute between biologists over the details of evolution is (deliberately?) misconstrued by creationists as reason to doubt that evolution is true.

  4. Good Morning,
    I understand your point and agree that the context of the conversation and the full email chain needs to be considered when reading these technical emails.
    That said, I think the emails about whether the SBO procedures and policies show a real concern that the specific plant’s {Peach Bottom?} procedures and policies were being credited based on assumptions that might need to be further validated.
    I expect the NRC would address this concern , maybe not to the satisfaction of the engineer raising the issue, but there should have been a further discussion of the issue and a resolution. It is poor leadership, and a poor process, to leave this internal questions unanswered in the record. This is a good reminder that emails are project documents.

  5. This is why I don’t like to use email as a discussion tool. I’d rather use email to relay information and have discussion in person (or by phone). Sometimes I consider inserting a key word or phrase into all of my emails so when there’s a FOIA request or congress asks for all correspondance covering a particular area, they’ll have to review every one of my emails. The key is to guess whichproblem program in the DoD will be the next big issue.

  6. “we are inherently prone to doubt ourselves, to express those doubts and to strive for continuing improvement.”

    that is utterly profane coming from an idiot english major who insisted some simplified equation he crammed in power school proved a spent fuel pool couldn’t be empty. despite the freaking video evidence before his eyes and claims of experts actually on the scene. you can’t think outside of your rote training well enough to guess that an *earthquake* might cause a leak, and you expect people to trust you (or any company that would hire you) to proliferate thousands of canisters of material each capable of rendering a city permanently uninhabitable. you, sir, are a mortal danger and embarrassment to both engineers and human kind.

    1. Erik – thank you for your support. As you may or may not be aware, I followed up that error with an apology.

      By the way, I am not sure what video evidence you think I missed at the time that I made the statements. I am also not sure what “experts on the scene” you are talking about. My issue came when the Chairman ordered an excessively large 50 mile evacuation zone. At that time, the only NRC people in Japan were in Tokyo.

    2. One more thing. Before you accuse me of having “crammed” and used rote memorization at nuclear power school, perhaps you could talk to a few of my colleagues from that era to find out how I did or you could talk to the folks at NR who approved my assignment as the Engineer Officer for a 25 year old boat with a CO who finished near the bottom of his nuke school class.

      1. apologies don’t cut it in this field, rod. an engineer knows that. a few months of cramming in power school does not make an engineer out of an english major. nor does following a manual to run a machine someone else built for a few years. nothing on your blog contains a hint of “doubting yourself” — i think that’s about all you picked up from the navy. you’ve proven that success as a nuke has nothing to do with being trusted with the public interest.

        rod, continue like this, and the result will be a million dead and a ghost town where there was once an american city. your attitude of “better to ask forgiveness than permission” will not serve you then, rod.

        but since you are so big into apologies and they do so much good, how about some apologies for your claims that there would be no significant contamination outside fukushima’s gates? rod, you’ve insisted on the safety of this stuff for years, insulting skeptics left and right. you’ve proven you have no idea what you’re doing.

        the experts were TEPCO, the video evidence was them desperately spraying water into their building. their desperation and the huge steam plume that resulted said nothing to you.

      2. “Near the bottom of his class” is pretty darn good, given the “finished” part. I saw all you ensigns and JGs in Orlando. I know it was hard. (But not like USNA, right?)

        1. @Reese – my mention of a CO near bottom of his class was not to demean my CO, but a subtle bit of bragging only understandable to people who know the NR system of carefully selecting people in key assignments (CO, XO, Eng, other DH) to ensure an adequate spread of knowledge among the fleet. In other words, I was trying to show that my service reputation was that I was reasonably heavy – for an English major. Green E, AA on first ORSE, then a fall from grace with a BA three weeks after Hugo destroyed our home town. Oh well.

      1. Little “E” Erik,

        You clearly know not what the “cramming” was, nor your more-than-gracious host’s path to his position as a CHENG (or whatever Submariners call it).

        You are unreadable except for your bitterness (or fake subsidized bitterness). Bleh! to you. Whatever your angle, think of the thousands dead from the quake and tsunami, not of the few from the expensive industrial accident at Sendai. Many more will suffer and die from lack of that plant and lack of plants like it. Whatever your angle: Bleh to you and your co-hort armies of fear mongers.

        “Utterly profain.” You utterly project.

        And please have the courtesy of proper punctuation when you write to a US Navy veteran and English major of the USNA.

    3. You don’t have to rely on Rod’s (considerable) expertise. I am currently working with a professional from Sargeant and Lundy whose job is to do radiation and shielding calculations for the industry, not to mention his college education. S&L did calculations on the radiation levels before on what if the spent fuel pool was empty or nearly empty. In his words, the rad levels at the site would be orders of magnitude higher than what were detected. Therefore the spent fuel pool water level was low but far from empty.

  7. I was expecting to see Rod’s over-optimistic initial posts even though my limited recent knowledge into NPP made me skeptical this would be simple and easy.

    Something about top 5 strongest earthquakes in history and a once in a 1,000 year tsunami. I was expecting to see reactors suffer fuel melt damage. I hate to admit it but after seeing 3 reactor suffer hydrogen explosion in series it is a bit of a relief that they failed in a common fashion. This would mean that other reactors can be retrofitted with a common fix rather than 3 unique situations. Not to mention that 2 of the 6 reactors on site made it through the tsunami in good shape. Yet another data point to show what siting was adequate and which was not.

    I was also expecting to see 0 public radiation deaths. And am hoping for 0 worker radiation related deaths. There is a major misunderstanding about Nuclear power and fuel melts. Melting fuel is not an end of the world event. Only time will tell us of the benefit of the evacuations as more data is made available, namely what amount of the radiation levels being measure is due to iodine versus cesium.

    I was not expecting the situation in the spent fuel pools. But after some recent reading i found that the NRC did re-evaluate spent fuel pools post 9/11.

    That action by the NRC is just what Rod’s post is all about. There are many engineers and non-engineers that believed that this incident should not have happened. Then something like 9/11 or this tsunami comes along and forces you to re-evaluate your assumption, plants and designs.

    There are people out there who would attack the industry because it changes the rules in the wake of a major disaster to take into account previously low chance events. I would be dismayed if the result of this event is to make no changes at all.

    just my 2cents.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts