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Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant  (Source: svsnowgoose.com)
A valve on its residual heat removal system was stuck shut, which prompted in-depth inspections by the NRC

Nuclear power has received a lot of criticism lately due to the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11. U.S. Senators urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to repeat the inspection of nuclear power in the United States after it was already deemed safe, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a global nuclear review after visiting Japan.

Despite all of these negative reviews, there are also many advocates who see the benefits of cheap, clean and reliable nuclear power as an alternative energy source. U.S. President Barack Obama even embraced nuclear energy in last year's State of the Union address

No matter which side you're on, many can agree that safety comes first, and now, federal regulators are concerned about the safety of an Alabama nuclear plant after its emergency cooling system failed. 

The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant is located near Athens, Alabama and is run by the Tennessee Valley Authority. A valve on its residual heat removal system was stuck shut, which prompted in-depth inspections by the NRC.  

According to reports, there have been previous problems with the valve. Originally, the valve failed sometime after March 2009, but wasn't identified until October 2010 when the plant was being refueled. The valve was fixed at that time, and was labeled as a manufacturer's defect. Despite the plant's effort to fix the valve and inspect all others like it, the NRC criticized the plant for not finding the valve issue sooner through routine inspections.

"The valve was repaired prior to returning the unit to service and Browns Ferry continued to operate safely," said Victor McCree, the NRC's Region ll administrator. "However, significant problems involving key safety systems warrant more extensive NRC inspection and oversight." 

Had there been an emergency, the NRC worries that the faulty valve could have prevented the emergency cooling systems from working correctly. For this reason, the NRC will continue to review the safety culture, organization and performance of the plant. 

"The results of this inspection will aid the NRC in deciding whether additional regulatory actions are necessary to assure public health and safety," said McCree.  

For the time being, the NRC has issued a red finding against the Brown Ferry nuclear plant, which is the most severe ranking given to a plant for inspection. Only five red findings have been issued in the U.S. in the past decade. It is unknown whether the Tennessee Valley Authority will appeal the finding from the NRC at this time.



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TVA
By bildan on 5/12/2011 3:03:02 PM , Rating: 4
The TVA is a "government owned corporation" which can, and usually does, combine the worst of government-run programs with the worst of corporate malfeasance. Letting this Frankenstein entity run nuclear reactors is an horrific idea worthy of the name.

Just who runs reactors is very important. We know for-profit corporations will cut corners on safety to improve their bottom line. Semi-socialist government programs like TVA are just inept.

A lot of people are in an uncomfortable position of supporting nuclear energy but not trusting their local power and light company to do it safely.

So, how about the one organization most people would trust to run civilian nukes - the US Navy.

Adm. Rickover gave the Navy an impressive nuclear safety culture which would be put to good use running all US nuclear power stations.

Like the TVA, the electricity would be sold to private distributors who would deliver it to consumers and bill them.

Corporations are good at billing.




RE: TVA
By phantom505 on 5/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: TVA
By rcc on 5/12/2011 3:50:48 PM , Rating: 5
I've seen the Eisenhower line semi-quoted several times on DT. Again it's a line paraprased out of context.

quote:
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.



So, yes, it's something that needs watching, but Eisenhower didn't say it was a disaster, he said it was necessary, and that we as "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry" could keep it in line. He'd probably be a bit ashamed of the average citizen's mental torpitude these days.


RE: TVA
By YashBudini on 5/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: TVA
By B-Unit on 5/12/2011 7:06:08 PM , Rating: 5
Your naive enough to think that he has stopped?


RE: TVA
By therealnickdanger on 5/13/2011 9:52:26 AM , Rating: 2
Well obviously, now that Obama has arrived to save us! We are no longer in any wars, all our troops are home, Guantanamo is closed, the economy is doing great, government transparency is the best it's ever been, employment is up (in government), lots of new social programs are rolling out, the deficit is no longer a big deal, corporations and special interest groups no longer control the White House, wiretapping citizens has stopped, f*cking Bush is impeached and on trial for killing the Jews (he was a Nazi, remember?), and all the land is full of rainbows and it rains gumdrops.


RE: TVA
By BSMonitor on 5/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: TVA
By YashBudini on 5/13/2011 8:53:09 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Your naive enough to think that he has stopped?

No, but after Bush he dropped below mach 1 again.


RE: TVA
By YashBudini on 5/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: TVA
By YashBudini on 5/13/2011 8:41:12 PM , Rating: 1
And the horse you rode in on.


RE: TVA
By phantom505 on 5/12/2011 7:13:26 PM , Rating: 3
I was a government contractor. I quite because of what I viewed was even more ridiculous prior to "contract reform". I was working for the Air Force ultimately. However, this is the pay chain: Air Force paid the Navy to pay the "prime contractor" to pay the "subcontractor" to pay me.

They would have hired me directly and saved money. Instead I ended up quitting because the nasty little company I worked for refused to pay for health care benefits (which a union later made them).

So much for "efficiency".


RE: TVA
By JediJeb on 5/13/2011 2:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I was working for the Air Force ultimately. However, this is the pay chain: Air Force paid the Navy to pay the "prime contractor" to pay the "subcontractor" to pay me.


That's where the expense is created. If the government would simply add in a "no sub contract" clause and require anyone getting a contract to be capable of providing the work themselves, then they could eliminate much of the waste. The state of Kentucky has began issuing such contracts. The lab I work for has had to forgo bidding on some of them because there are tests listed in them that we do not currently do.


RE: TVA
By 0ldman on 5/13/2011 5:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe limits to subcontracting, but it would be near impossible to do away with it.

Just build an office building. You have the general contractor that does the foundation, building, walls, weatherproofing.

Generally a licensed plumber, electrician, etc, is required. If the job is big enough the plumber might sub out to another group.

Happens all the time. The bigger the business/project/gov't/etc, the bigger the cost/waste. Once it gets complicated, no one person can overview the entire job and stuff gets wasted.


RE: TVA
By sorry dog on 5/14/2011 10:20:32 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe a well intentioned idea, but I think it would cause more trouble than savings. For instance, when I used to manage building treatment plants, I might be the prime and the cost of some of the equipment and associated specialty installation needed might be more than my part of contract pouring concrete structures. However, labor is the biggest risk, so I had more risk than the equipment vendor. And I didn't have the sources or the knowledge to put in said specialty equipment, just like the equipment vendor would not have the ability to bid concrete work. So you gotta sub some stuff...unless you make individual contracts, which would be a real coordination headache with additional project management overhead.

I've been apart of a Navy contract or two as a sub...and the BIGGEST reason why they paid too much for the work is they had an invitation only bidding process. Only 3 outfits were able to bid on the work that we did. My company did 95% of the work, and the prime basically made some free money by being an invited bidder. They COULD have done the work without us, but they likely would have upped the bid a few hundred thousand.

I still don't exactly know how one gets invited, and it may have changed since that was 8 years ago. But it seems to me the best way to get lower bids is make the bidding process more transparent with more open qualifications.


RE: TVA
By cruisin3style on 5/14/2011 2:58:33 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the OP is talking about this quote

quote:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.


RE: TVA
By 3minence on 5/13/2011 9:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A lot of people are in an uncomfortable position of supporting nuclear energy but not trusting their local power and light company to do it safely.

That's me. I trust nuclear power, I just don't trust the nuclear power industry.


RE: TVA
By jdparker520 on 5/13/2011 10:29:48 AM , Rating: 2
Given your comments, I have to assume that you do not live in or near the Tennessee Valley. I do, and I can tell you that everyone I have ever spoken to in the area is very pleased with TVA. They deliver some of the cheapest power in the nation and produce such a surplus that we are a major exporter of power. I am unable to comment regarding their safety culture, but I can conclude based on my experience as a customer that they are far from "inept".

Also, I'm surprised that no one has brought up the recent controlled emergency shut down that Browns Ferry went through as a result of the tornadoes that swept through the east US. The plant was forced through the same procedure as the Fukushima plant, except their backup generators were not damaged so they still had enough power to run the cooling system. So far it looks like the plant was in good enough shape to make it through this emergency procedure without incident. It is concerning that they didn't find out about this failure for so long, but that concern is tempered somewhat by the fact that the plant has been shown to perform well in an emergency.

FYI, I'm not a shill. I work for a designer of networking equipment in Huntsville, AL.


RE: TVA
By NellyFromMA on 5/13/2011 2:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
I never spent a lot of time thinking about this, but that sounds, at face value, to be a great idea! Maybe there are realistic reasons why the Navy (or some branch of military) isn't currently responsible for this, but I feel as though this is a common-sense idea and approach. Why have a 'government owned corporation' be responsible for this? If you want to ensure absolute oversight on these matters that require great discipline, this seems practical.

It's not as if safety inspection itself stands to gain from being commercial in any way (that I can think of having spent 5 minutes thinking on it, lol).

Kudos for logic!


RE: TVA
By konacustom on 5/13/2011 5:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
I worked as a 'Nuke' MM on a fast boat in the US Navy and recently hired on in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a nuclear engineer. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the malfeasance mentioned above with TVA is absolutely the case at NNSY! I cannot understate this! It is a culture of cronyism and nepotism at the shipyard and involves no merrit whatsoever. Its so bad that I am not staying and am praying against all that one of these new idiots they hired (they didn't even know who Rickover was/is nor Isenhower for that matter! or how to apply concepts of pressure vs force in the classroom!!!)don't cause some sort of accident. The main reason why there isn't another nuclear accident in the U.S. is because of a select few individuals that actually remember something from their training and 'wipe the asses' of those who don't. One day they will get tired and they will faulter....I hope not but it is a statistical certainty.


RE: TVA
By konacustom on 5/13/2011 5:17:14 PM , Rating: 2
correction...*overstate*

I remember many times there would be systems that needed new components and the solution was to go to another boat and 'chop and swap' their component with ours which meant ultimately that when their system got put back together it would be improperly documented what exactly happened. Its not the Navy operators (i.e. the enlisted guys) one should be afraid of...its the corporate culture that the naval shipyards have adopted to run things. They run it like its a corporation which in nuclear is *not* a good thing at all. Scary...even for a nuke!


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