Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks public comments on risk analysis of two-reactor nuclear plant

Published on August 24, 2023 by Chris Galford

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With an eye to informing regulatory, policy and technical issues related to advanced and new reactors, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff this week called for public comments on the latest results from a multi-year analysis of risks at a two-reactor nuclear power plant site. 

The NRC’s full-scope site Level 3 Probabilistic Risk Analysis (PRA) project began in 2012 as an examination of a typical site with two large pressurized-water reactors and their spent fuel. Its latest update brought new risk insights gained from work over the years, and builds on estimations of potential health effects and economic impacts conducted at the previous two levels: Level 1, dealing with possible reactor core damage scenarios; and Level 2, dealing with possible radioactive material release scenarios. 

As a whole, the analyses can grant insights into risks associated with accidents at one or more reactors at a nuclear site, along with other radioactive material. Nuclear power plants can then use knowledge learned to discover and correct vulnerabilities to improve reactor safety, as in the case of fire protection needs. PRA results can also be combined with traditional engineering methods for the NRC to consider during regulation of nuclear power plants and other civilian uses of radioactive material. 

These latest results focused on earthquakes, internal fires and high winds during moments of full power operations. Site design and location were both considered for the analysis and determined that risks of a reactor accident fall below the NRC’s safety regulations.