The hot zone

Feds tiptoe around fire safety violations at Shearon Harris nuclear plant

| October 31, 2007

In June, Progress Energy released a statement heralding the failure of a local petition to shut down the company's Shearon Harris nuclear plant due to "claims of inadequate fire protection measures."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that oversees the industry, rejected "all three portions of the petition, noting that the agency has granted the Harris Plant 'enforcement discretion' as it makes changes to its fire protection program," Progress asserted in the statement.

At first glance, the announcement seemed a victory for Progress, which has faced years of scrutiny from local and national advocacy groups for Harris' fire-protection violations.

Yet as Harris refuels this fall—the deadline petitioners had given for action from the NRC—the plant remains under investigation for its violations by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the NRC's Office of the Inspector General.

At a meeting in Raleigh last month, representatives from both offices were in the audience as one NRC commissioner explained regulators' proposed change in approach to fire safety at Harris. Offered as a transition from "prescriptive" to "risk-based" standards—in other words, a shift from objective to subjective safety requirements—the move would essentially retroactively negate Harris' violations, according to some of the industry's watchdogs, one of whom likened it to changing a school zone speed limit from "25 mph" to "Drive safely."

About 30 miles from the facility that houses one of the country's largest reserves of spent nuclear fuel, NRC Commissioner Gregory Jaczko discussed Shearon Harris' persistent fire-protection issues and admitted his agency could be doing a better job.

"[Fire protection] is, in the end, something that's doable. It doesn't have anything to do with the nuclear reaction. It's something that we can deal with in a very simple way, but right now, we're not," Jaczko said at the Raleigh meeting, where he hosted the three main filers of the petition to shut down Harris.

The panel included members of Durham's N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network and the D.C.-based groups Union of Concerned Scientists and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (now operating under the name Beyond Nuclear). Those three groups, along with N.C. Fair Share and Students United for a Responsible Global Environment, demanded in their September 2006 petition that the NRC either shut down the Wake County plant or fine it $130,000 per violation, per day, until it came into compliance.

These violations include Harris' reliance on ineffective fire-barrier materials and its substitution of safe mechanical functioning with "operator manual actions"—a complex series of human procedures intended to prevent disaster in the event of a fire. In 2006, long after Harris began using them, NRC permitted operator manual actions "in lieu of required fire barriers," as long as plants also implemented "compensatory measures" to move toward fire-protection compliance. However, in the 2007 decision not to shut down Harris, an NRC report lists "compensatory fire watch and operator manual actions"—both operator manual actions—as "additional" compensatory measures.

In its 20-year history, Harris has had at least four fires—including a 1988 electrical fire that took three hours and 30 firefighters to quell; it shut down the plant for two weeks. Fires at nuclear plants represent up to half of the risks for a catastrophic accident, according to federal studies.

Harris began its current streak of violating safety laws in 1991 when the NRC informed plants that Thermo-Lag, a fire barrier material, had failed performance tests two years earlier, according to NRC reports. Over the next 16 years, Harris repeatedly hid violations from the NRC, documents show. In 1997, for example, it reported it had "corrected" the Thermo-Lag problem, yet five years later, during a routine inspection, the NRC found the plant still was using the material—while covering up gaps in its fire-protection systems with operator manual actions that remained untested by federal regulators.

The agency responded over the years by using "enforcement discretion" (which allows the NRC to choose not to enforce a safety violation "even though, technically, a non-compliance situation may exist"). Now, under the "risk-based" model, a new standard based on statistical predictions for the behavior of fire would render Harris' past violations moot, say critics of the plan.

The NRC commissioner admitted inefficiencies with enforcement at Harris—including a "dysfunctional" system of transparency, civil penalties that are "not high enough to make a difference," and a period of enforcement discretion he insisted should end—but said fire-protection issues at the plant weren't serious enough for shutdown.

"The most powerful tool the agency has is shutting the plant down. You start there, to some extent, and work backwards. I haven't seen enough information from the staff that this has risen to the level of requiring plants to shut down," he said.

Left to right: Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, John Runkle of N.C. WARN, NRC Commissioner Gregory Jaczko, Jim Warren of N.C. WARN and Dave Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists discuss fire safety at Shearon Harris on Oct. 16. - PHOTO BY MATT SALDAÑA
  • Photo by Matt Saldaña
  • Left to right: Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, John Runkle of N.C. WARN, NRC Commissioner Gregory Jaczko, Jim Warren of N.C. WARN and Dave Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists discuss fire safety at Shearon Harris on Oct. 16.

Beyond Nuclear spokesman Paul Gunter interrupted Jaczko to ask, "Can we help you make that argument?"

"Maybe we could shift the discussion from [shutting facilities down] to other regulatory tools. That's where it gets more challenging," Jaczko replied.

However, Barbara Janeway, a Carrboro resident in the audience, said she wasn't sold on the NRC's other "tools."

"You said the monetary penalties don't do anything, and I'm scared," Janeway said.

"I don't want you to be scared," Jaczko told Janeway. "If there was a significant enough safety concern that would cause you to be concerned, I would call immediately for any plant to get shut down—no hesitation."

"This is a complicated issue," he added. "The NRC is an agency, and we have tremendous authority to do a lot of things. Sometimes the perception is that the only way to get something done is by shutting a facility down, and that's not true."

Jim Warren, director of N.C. WARN, said at the meeting that Progress had repeatedly "gamed" the NRC and the public by falsely promising to correct barrier problems.

"The answers are often simple: We tell [the plants] to do it, and they do it. In practice, it's not always so simple," Jaczko offered.

Warren didn't buy that argument.

"I think of all nuclear power's dangers and problems and risks to the public, the toothless enforcement of NRC as a watchdog agency—that's the most dangerous aspect of nuclear power," he said after the meeting.

Gunter attributed NRC's "inability or unwillingness to enforce its own regulations" to the agency's reliance on plant licensing fees for 90 percent of its budget.

"If you're shutting down nuclear power plants, under the current collections system, you're cutting your own budget," he said.

At the meeting, Jaczko presented the new risk-based model—which Progress says it will submit for approval in June 2008—as a solution to the NRC's inability to enforce safety requirements, while advocates on the panel said the new rules would exacerbate the root of the problem: Harris' non-compliance.

"On the surface, [non-compliance] sounds bad. But most of this falls under the category of, 'We have an understanding of what [the non-compliances] are, but we don't believe [the plants] need to be shut down.' That's why, ultimately, if we move forward with this other approach, it gives you a much cleaner answer. With Shearon Harris, we're close to getting there," Jaczko said.

He added: "These are very difficult things to explain, and that's not how I want to regulate. I want to regulate in a way that [plants] need to comply with Appendix R [the current fire protections standards], not they need to comply with Appendix R and they have 68 exemptions, and I can walk you through those 68 exemptions—that's not the way to do it. It's not an effective regulatory procedure."

The panelists, all of whom agreed the NRC's enforcement was ineffective, did not bite on Jaczko's proposal.

"If the NRC has not demonstrated the ability to enforce a prescriptive standard, it's going to be incredibly difficult—and we believe a dubious effort—to enforce a more broadly termed performance standard, which can be argued from both sides endlessly," Gunter said of the risk-based model.

"It makes absolutely no sense, nor is it prudent in the interest of public safety, for NRC to now abandon an enforcement policy," he said after the meeting.

Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller, one of only two elected officials—both from Chatham County—at the Raleigh meeting, said a statistical model could serve as a diagnostic tool but not the standard for "getting down to the nitty-gritty of safety."

"They can certainly do modeling statistics and say there's a near-100 percent probability that everything's fine, but then some worker could've had a bad day, and then you have a safety problem, and how would you know that?" he said.

Julie Hans, spokeswoman for Shearon Harris, said the new risk-based model would give the plant "flexibility to look at the risk."

"We have the ability to look at that particular scenario and say, 'What's the most effective way to do this? Do we go down and flip the breaker, without waiting for some automatic action to take place, just as a precaution?'" she said, referring to operator manual actions, which she said "could be a part of the new regulations."

She added that these procedures are contained in a database, a notebook and a chart.

"At what point does Willy run and get the notebook and graph?" Warren asked. "If this were something involving a minor safety issue, then it might be different, but the fact is that fire is a top-risk factor that overlaps with the whole security infrastructure at power plants—which is why Jaczko is down here."

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Comments (12)

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I always appreciate the input of others (especially when they agree with me as you do, Cut), but I would clarify one thing in your post. The Harris Plant isn't actually "re-defining success". Success is still the same end goal: a plant that is safe even if a fire occurs. What they're re-defining is the means towards achieving that end. In a sense you're still right though, Cut. It would be sort of like looking at Iraq and saying "Hey, maybe there's a better way of achieving our goals here." Only then George Bush/NCWarn/the Indy/UCS jumps up and says "No! No! We gotta keep doing things the same way! Anything else is failure!"

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Posted by JohnD on 11/11/2007 at 11:10 PM

I've listened to what everyone's said, and I have to say that I have to agree with JohnD on this one. From personal experience, I've learned that it's often OK to re-define what success is, as long as success is something that makes sense. Take a look at Iraq, for example. We've re-defined success from the initial "seeking out WMD" to "spreading Democracy to the middle-east". Sure, taken at face value it seems ridiculous, but what's the end result going to be? By the end of 2008, George Bush is going to be telling the world that the Iraqi people are seeing us leave as liberators. If that's not success, I don't know what is. Another analogy, if I may: A long time ago, I used to work for a company that set out to deliver a highly elegant and scalable product (analogous to 'highly elegant and scalable fire protection solution'). Things were challenging, but our shareholders (anal. to 'NRC') stayed the course, and in doing so, allowed us to deliver a product (anal. to 'fire protection solution'). When the going got tough, management (anal. 'management') tried to convince me to stay the course ('success'), but I made the obvious mistake of cutting and running ('miserable failure'). Had I stuck around, I would be enjoying a significantly higher stock price ('Yay. No nuclear explosion.') right now. I'm just saying.

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Posted by Cut-n-Run on 11/09/2007 at 12:44 AM

LOL Ok, CrazyJD, I liked that post. So you don't like my analogy? Well, it's ok. I don't want this degrade into personal attacks but that's just the sort of blinkered, philistine pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage. ;-) But moving on, NFPA 805 (the new standard they're moving to) is not a "vague, subject to interpretation, set of rules". In fact it's quite the opposite. If you look on their website, www.nfpa.org , it allows for using a "performance-based standard". That standard REQUIRES there to be specific measurable (or calculable) outcomes that must be met. What it allows is flexibility in how that standard is met. What it's looking at is the end result and not how you get there. For instance to make an analogy (I do likey analogies), think of fire safety as a journey and let's call Chapel Hill the ultimately fire safe location. Now then in that case, Appendix R would tell you that there is only one specific approved route for getting to Chapel Hill. And if you don't take that route, then you're WRONG and it doesn't care whether you end up in Chapel Hill or not. On the other hand, NFPA 805 says, look I don't care how get to Chapel Hill, as long as you get there and (here's the key) you can prove that you're there. You can do that then it's all good. In reality, it is far more specific in what is demanded of the plant but it's focused on looking at the end result in some measurable way. The current requirements, Appendix R, are a prescriptive generic standard that state requirements like "must use a 3 hr barrier", but pay no heed to the end result. And that's why there are so many exemptions out there. Because you can have a safe plant AND not have that 3 hr barrier. That's what Harris (and dozens of other plants) have done. They said look, this 3 hour barrier is really a 2 hour barrier, but we've put all these other measures in place and now we're even safer than we were before. But Appendix R doesn't allow for that. It doesn't care how much safer you've made things or what studies and calculations you have to prove it, if you aren't using a 3 hour fire barrier then you are out of compliance. In reality, there are lots of ways to achieve fire protection other than using fire barriers (such as establishing combustible exclusion zones, removing potential ignition sources, installing early warning fire detectors, improving automatic sprinkler systems, modifying existing systems to provide additional redundancy, to name just a few). From what I read of NFPA 805 on the NFPA's website, it doesn't prescribe use of a 3 hour barrier. Rather it permits the use of a 3 hour fire barrier OR any other method that provides the same MEASURABLE end result.

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Posted by JohnD on 11/06/2007 at 4:29 PM

Matt, I wasn't meaning to blast you about the monetary penalties quote. I know you're just reporting what was said. I'm saying that in my opinion financial penalties CAN work on businesses because they like making money. If the financial penalties aren't working then it's 'cause you're not doing it right. To JohnD, I don't think it's accurate to give the comparison of 15mph for curvy roads and 45mph for main roads. It sounds to me that what they're saying is they want a "cleaner answer". I.E. the bigwigs of Progress Energy and their lapdogs - the NRC, are tired of getting kicked about there being "68 exemptions" to regulatory safety. So instead they're going to put a big white screen up and say "We wouldn't do anything that's unsafe therefore what we're doing is by definition safe QED, there are no safety violations. Suck it American Public." I disagree with the whole part of the plan to say that since the specific detailed rules say there are 68 violations we're going to change the rules to vague, subject to interpreatation "subjective" rules where there are no violations. If the rules really need to be changed then they should be changed for ALL nuclear power plants in the US. They should be specific detailed rules and there should be no question about whether Progress Energy ought to fix them or not. They fix 'em. They can get a waiver for short term "manual operator" workarounds or whatever but they fix the violations.

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Posted by CrazyJD on 11/06/2007 at 2:40 PM

Well, Crazy, first off I'd amplify that to my mind if you're going to say somebody hid something then that implies the company actually then took some action to ensure nobody found out about it. What is illustrated in the Inspection Report is that Progress Energy was made of aware of possible deficiencies in Thermo-Lag by the NRC. They tested the Thermo-Lag and found it was only good for 1 hr 48 minutes and not 3 hours. They then immediately informed the NRC and started doing calculations to see how it affected their Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR). When they finished this evaluation their updated their FSAR to reflect what the evaluation had shown and transmitted the updated FSAR to the NRC. The NRC then said, you should have transmitted a draft copy to us first and then updated your copy. It doesn't sound to me like there was anything sinister going on, it sounds to me like an admin error. Also, according the inspection report, they weren't making changes that "affected" safety, they were updating their safety evaluations to reflect current plant conditions. As for the risk-based vs. objective based, I've been doing some reading on that. I checked out what the NRC, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) had to say. From what I've read, the "industry watchdogs" have been somewhat disingenuous in their comparisons. Basically right now, it seems that the fire protection requirements at Harris are pretty much the same for where ever you go in the plant. So whether it's a room full of gasoline, kindling, and puppies or a completely empty metal room the objective requirements don't change. What the risk based fire protection allows (and I'm no expert but this is how I read it), is that you would have different requirements for different rooms. If it's a concrete room with nothing in it except a pipe carrying water then it would not have the same requirements as room that has a possible ignition source (say a motor) and something possible fuel source (say an oil reservoir or fuel tanks). To me that just sounds reasonable. It sounds to me like the requirements would still be perscriptive for each area, just not identical for each room. In other words, the analogy would have been more accurate to say, they're changing the speed limit from 25 mph on all roads to 45 mph on main roads, 25 mph on regular roads, and 10 mph on curvy roads. Now then finally, I have to laugh when you say that the one phrase I'M hung up on is the 50% risk. It's the only thing you, the Indy writer before you (Sue something), NC Warn, NIRS, and UCS ever quote out of NUREG-1150. It's a single statement stuck in an appendix of a 1000+ page, multi-volume document and it's the only thing you all quote. Also, I don't feel the study is irrelevant. Far from it, in fact. What I do feel is that you are misrepresenting the study. You present this "up to 50% of the risk" as though it's a conclusion from this study. In reality, if you look at the comment in context, the statement is used in an introduction of an appendix discussing fire risk and is used to provide historical perspective. It's referring to previous PRAs done by individual facilities in the nuclear industry and those PRAs aren't even referred to or discussed anywhere in the study.

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Posted by JohnD on 11/06/2007 at 1:57 PM

2) Second, the plant updated their safety analysis report to reflect the conditions mentioned in number 1 above without FIRST telling the NRC. The NRC was informed of this and the inspection report also details the plant's justification. JohnD, you've got to look beyond what Progress says. We shouldn't be in the business of taking things at face value, particularly regarding something as serious as nuclear safety. (That's kind of the point of the article.) If they've done something regarding safety before first telling the regulatory committee about, then they're hiding information. It's right there in even the language you've chosen. Secondly, it's interesting that you say I've relied on what N.C. WARN, and not NRC, has said, when the phrase you've found most problematic ("Fires at nuclear plants represent up to half of the risks for a catastrophic accident, according to federal studies.") comes from NRC. You seem quite hung up about that one phrase, but it's an important one. We need to assess the risk of fire at Harris. Saying that there have been at least four fires-- one of which was serious-- is important, but it's also statistically convenient. Though you think the study is irrelevant, it's important considering who it came from-- the NRC. If, as you've put it, the committee has otherwise said plants are safe from fire, then we need to call into question a study they've conducted that says it's possible fire may present half the risk of a catastrophic event (which, of course, is very unlikely-- but that's not the point.) There have only been a handful of nuclear meltdowns, but the possibility of one-- since it could kill thousands-- is what's at stake here. Also, did you read the rest of my article? I quote a NRC commissioner repeatedly acknowledging problems with safety and enforcement at Harris. In response to the comment about monetary fines, I'm not sure why you're telling me that's "fallacious." It's a quote from an NRC commissioner, not me.

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Posted by Matt Saldana, Indy Staff Writer on 11/06/2007 at 12:18 PM

I have two questions. Matt, I'd like you to clarify and answer to exactly what Progress Energy hid. I haven't waded through all the inspection reports and don't want to. You should be able to say they knew X on this date and didn't tell the NRC. JohnD, My question to you is how exactly is it that it's a good idea that the NRC is moving from not enforcing specific detailed regulations to non-enforcement of vague generalized guidelines that in essence say "Ya'll be careful." There was a quote about how the guy would rather not regulate with specific regulations and 68 exemptions. I'd prefer that. That's the way to go AS LONG AS you work towards removing those 68 exemptions. Plus the idea that monetary penalties don't work or aren't effective is fallacious. They're a business. They're in the business to make money. If the monetary penalties aren't working as a deterrent it's because they aren't high enough. There should be an escalating scale to the penalties. I'd be fine with a geometric progression. $2 for the first day, $4 on second, $8 on third day. You may laugh, but after 15 days, that's $32,768. If they go 3 weeks it's $2,097,152. I guess I'd be fine with capping the fine at $1,000,000 a day. But it'd certainly motivate them to fix "exemptions" quickly.

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Posted by CrazyJD on 11/06/2007 at 10:21 AM

Ummm. . . Game, set, match, Mr. Salda

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Posted by mattinthehat on 11/06/2007 at 9:39 AM

Ok, Matt, upon rereading my post I can see that it may have come across as somewhat rude. I apologize, that truly was not my intent. Now then, as I said in my original post, I DID find the letters from Harris and the inspection reports that you mentioned on the NRC's website using ADAMS. It was a little difficult because the inspection actually occured 1999, not "5 years later" as you say in the article, but I found it. Also, you implied that the NRC thought there was no more Thermo-Lag at the Harris Plant, but the very letter you reference of Aug. 29, 1997 makes it clear that the plant did not remove all Thermo-Lag. Nonetheless, after reading those letters and inspection reports again, I don't see anything that shows Progress Energy "hid" violations. Quite to the contrary, according to the first Inspection Report (ML003685341), the NRC essentially found three things during a one week inspection conducted in 1999. 1) First there was a fire barrier that was supposed to be rated for 3 hours and had tested at only 1 hr 48 minutes. And this clearly wasn't "hidden" from the NRC because they'd been informed of this (and the site's safety evaluation of it) in a letter back in 1997, Serial Number HNP-97-170, as indicated on page four of the Inspection Report. 2) Second, the plant updated their safety analysis report to reflect the conditions mentioned in number 1 above without FIRST telling the NRC. The NRC was informed of this and the inspection report also details the plant's justification. 3) And finally, the NRC didn't like the testing that was done on Hemyc and MT fire materials. From the inspection report it looks like the testing was done by a third party and the NRC decided, after looking at the testing methods, that while the testing was per ANI (American Nuclear Insurers) standards, there was a key aspect of the test that was non-conservative. So, that's what your documents show. It in fact appears from reading the Inspection Report, that the NRC had been informed by Progress Energy of all three issues before they ever even got to the plant. I don't see anything in that inspection report or in the Director's Decision that indicates Progress Energy ever "hid" anything. Now, I'll agree that they appear to have made decisions that the NRC didn't subsequently agree with, but everything in that Inspection Report and in the Directors decision seem to indicate that Progress Energy was very upfront with the NRC about what was going on, what fire barriers were in place, and what actions they were taking to keep the plant safe. What exactly do you feel Progress Energy was hiding? As for the NRC Study, let me share with you how it appears to me that you and NC Warn are coming across...you are fine with latching on to a single 3 word phrase out of an NRC study from 20 years ago, that has no documented support and is contrary to all logic and experience, but happens to espouse something you want to believe then... then in that case you're good with just blindly believing. But anything else the NRC tells you, (like the plant is safe) you're just going to disregard. I think if you read the whole NUREG-1150 and not just that one sentence, it'll make you feel a whole lot better about reactor safety. Especially when you get to the part that states the probability of a catastrophic accident occuring caused by a fire is about one out of every 85,000 years.

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Posted by JohnD on 11/06/2007 at 12:07 AM

Let's assume, for the moment, that I didn't just read old Indy articles and write a book report. Here's one of the "documents" I used as a "source." It's a Director's Decision from the NRC: http://www.progress-energy.com/aboutenergy/powerplants/nuclearplants/directors_decision.pdf Refer to page five, which is the example I used in my article:

Based on the NRCs generic communications, licensees reviewed their fire protection safe shutdown plans to determine whether corrective actions were needed. By letter dated August 29, 1997, the SHNPP Licensee notified the NRC that it had completed Thermo-Lag resolution activities (corrective actions) for SHNPP. Subsequently, NRC Inspection Report 50-400/99-13 (ML003685341), dated February 3, 2000, identified issues at SHNPP associated with engineering evaluations for some of the Thermo-Lag fire barriers. By letter dated April 16, 2002 (ML021060517), the NRC issued a violation to SHNPP for the Thermo-Lag issues. In addition to the Thermo-Lag issues, the NRC inspection report included an unresolved item to track questions regarding Hemyc and MT fire barriers installed at SHNPP.
As for your cards analogy, you make a good point. Unfortunately, your Navy training has nothing to do with the NRC study, which found that fire poses a risk of "up to 50 percent" at nuclear plants in general, which is what I wrote. If you have problem with this logic, of if you'd like the committee to conduct a study at Harris specifically, you can complain to NRC.

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Posted by Matt Saldana, Indy Staff Writer on 11/05/2007 at 8:31 PM

Ok, let's set aside for a moment the fact that this article is pretty much just a rehash of the last four articles that the Indy has run on the Harris Plant. These assertions by the NC WARN (which the Indy has just regurgitated with no real research on their part) just don't quite pass the smell test. I operated a reactor in the Navy and I just couldn't quite imagine how things could be as different as the articles try to make it out to be. So after the last one, I went online and checked some of the "facts" that you guys are reporting. They don't quite check out. First off, when you stay "federal studies" show that fire is up to 50% of the risk at a nuclear plant, that's stretching things a little bit as far as I can tell. From all the research I could find, there's only ONE federal study that even came close to asserting that. And that is NUREG-1150. And the "assertion", if you could call it that, is tucked away in one line in one paragraph in an Appendix! Very tricky, took me a while to find it, but I did. (You can read it for yourself on the NRC's website http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr1150/v2/sr1150v2appc.pdf It's on page C-128). And even there the study only says "previous probablistic safety assessments" done in the previous 20 years had found fire had been "between 7% and 50%" of the risk. What's more the study isn't even specific to Shearon Harris. Of course, there's no real way it could be since this study was released in draft format back 20 years ago (the same year Harris came online!) and then finalized in 1990. (So yeah, it's a 20 year old study that's talking about data that was 20 years old when the study was released!) So, Matt, what is the risk contribution of fire at the Harris plant? Did you ask? That's what I care about. Not Surry and Peach Bottom and Grand Gulf and the other plants that are discussed in this study. (None of which btw had an "updated" 1990 fire risk of >25% that I could see.) Also, it only makes sense that fire ISN'T really 50% of the risk because fire hasn't been the cause of 50% of the catastrophic nuclear accidents. When I was in the Navy we had training that discussed the fact that between 1945 and 1995 there had been 14 events that had caused actual damage to fuel in the nuclear reactor. This covered all 430 some commercial reactors in the world, all of the military reactors, and all of the test/research reactors. So, out of all of them there had been 14 events that caused fuel damage (and fuel damage HAS to occur for any significant release to the public to occur). Of those 14 events (which included Chernobyl & TMI), out of ALL of those events, do you know how many were caused by fire? None. Of the 14, not a single one was caused by a fire. Now two of them had fires that were caused by the accident (SL-1 & Chernobyl), but fire wasn't the cause or (even the major hazard) in either of those two. This is like someone telling you that there's a 50% chance of you pulling the ace of spades out of a deck of cards. After you pull 14 cards out of the deck and no ace of spades, it looks like you're misrepresenting the risk. I'm not saying there's no ace of spades in the deck, I'm just syaing the odds of it coming out clearly aren't 50%. So when you guys come out and say "Fire is 50% of the risk, fire is 50% of the risk" it sounds a lot like to me "The sky is falling, the sky is falling". As for your other statement, I could not find anything anywhere that supported your statement that Progress Energy "repeatedly hid violations", so I'd be interested to see what "documents" you have that "show" this. I found the inspection report you referred to but it makes no mention of Progress "hiding" violations. To me that's a hugely important distinction. To say they "hid" violations repeatedly is a huge accusation, that would carry a lot of weight with me. It's the difference between a "making a mistake" and a "being a liar". So what are the "documents" that "show" Progress hid violations (even once, much less repeatedly)? Or was that a "mistake"?

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Posted by JohnD on 11/05/2007 at 4:59 PM

Blah, Blah, Blah This has been hashed, rehashed, studied, overstudied, WARNed about, yet we still hear the same message over and over and over. What about the good that Harris does? How about the contribution to the local economies? How about employing 500 people in south western Wake county? How about the electricity that it produces that allows you to post this to the Internet? Or turn on your lights? I suppose we could use all of the Hot Air produced by articles like this (over and over) to turn a nice sized wind turbine. THAT would be using renewable energy to produce electricity, and a lot of it.

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Posted by jwbikes on 11/05/2007 at 12:48 PM
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