NRC calls for new station blackout rule by April 2014

24 October 2011

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its staff to begin immediately implementing seven safety recommendations from the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force on lessons learned from the reactor accident at Fukushima. One recommendation calls for the rulemaking for a new station blackout rule to be completed by April 2014.

“The station blackout rulemaking is an achievable goal,” said NRC chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. “It will, however, be complicated by the Commission’s direction to initiate the rulemaking through an advance notice of rulemaking, rather than as a proposed rule. This will add an extra step to the process. Nevertheless, addressing station blackout is a high priority, and I will do my best to lead the staff in accomplishing this effort.”

The seven recommendations were selected by NRC staff as ‘most appropriate for immediate action’ from the 12 comprehensive safety recommendations presented by the Task Force to the Commission in July 2011. The recommendations cover issues including the loss of all A/C electrical power at a reactor (also called “station blackout”), reviews of seismic and flooding hazards, emergency equipment and plant staff training.

In a statement NRC said that it was calling on its staff to “utilize performance-based standards in any new or revised regulations wherever possible”. Performance-based requirements specify the objective or result to be attained, rather than prescribing to licensees how the objective or result is to be attained.

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