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NRC SAFER

One of the most dangerous, and often ignored, aspects of nuclear energy is that nuclear power stations always have need for backup energy supplies for cooling of the nuclear reactors, and spent fuel pools, as dramatically demonstrated by the never-ending Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Thus, belatedly, last year, “The nuclear industry has officially opened two National Response Centers — in Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix, Ariz… The centers, previously called Regional Response Centers, contain extra equipment to duplicate plants’ emergency diesel generators, pumps, hoses and so on. … An industry group, called the Strategic Alliance for FLEX Emergency Response (SAFER), is managing the response centers. This organization also has two control centers that are separate from response centers and would coordinate equipment deliveries.http://public-blog.nrc-gateway. gov/2014/08/18/watching-response-centers-put-trucks-on-the-road/

Is the area of the New Madrid fault a place to put one of two National Response Centers? It is amazingly blinkered. The Memphis location seems to be because they plan to depend in large part upon FedEx, which is centered there. Additionally, the PIM-PEICo Warehouse for nuclear parts is already in Memphis, presumably for prompt FedEx delivery, which seemingly makes it even more risky, because spare parts are in a potential major disaster zone, too.

The Memphis location is blinkered, and downright stupid, because of the New Madrid risk, the tornado risks, and because major parts of the US electric grid are located in the area, and may go down, which could impact both SAFER and the nuclear reactors which may need their help. Additionally there is a gas pipeline hazard in the event of a major earthquake.

And, who is operating the new back-up “SAFER” program but French State owned AREVA, in conjunction with PEICo. AREVA would be long defunct, if it were not for being propped up by French tax monies. Their backup plan, it turns out, is to rely on US State and Federal mililtary. Glancing through the US NRC “evaluation” of the program is not reassuring. It is stressfully reminiscent of the Three Stooges.http://youtu.be/C6q37n7GDCY, as detailed further below. So, why even hire AREVA-PEICo in the first place? In a major emergency State and Federal military need to be focused on other things. That’s theoretically the whole point in hiring AREVA-PEICo isn’t it? There are even major gas pipelines running through the region, which may require help from military and could impact Memphis SAFER itself. Honeywell’s Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Facility, in Metropolis Illinois (across the river from Paducah Kentucky) is also in the New Madrid-Wabash Valley Fault Region.

New Madrid Earthquakes 1811-12
This sequence of three very large earthquakes is usually referred to as the New Madrid earthquakes, after the Missouri town that was the largest settlement on the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and Natchez, Mississippi. On the basis of the large area of damage (600,000 square kilometers), the widespread area of perceptibility (5,000,000 square kilometers), and the complex physiographic changes that occurred, the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 rank as some of the largest in the United States since its settlement by Europeans. They were by far the largest east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times as large as that of the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times as large as that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/events/1811-1812.php

1811, December 16, 08:15 UTC Northeast Arkansas – the first main shock 2:15 am local time Magnitude ~7.5 This powerful earthquake was felt widely over the entire eastern United States. People were awakened by the shaking in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. Perceptible ground shaking was in the range of one to three minutes depending upon the observers location. The ground motions were described as most alarming and frightening in places like Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky. Reports also describe houses and other structures being severely shaken with many chimneys knocked down. In the epicentral area the ground surface was described as in great convulsion with sand and water ejected tens of feet into the air (liquefaction).http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/events/1811-1812.php

The pale reddish purple, running, for instance, from the Memphis area through the middle of Arkansas, actually indicates the highest voltage lines, which thus run through the New Madrid Quake area.
US Grid FEMA public domain via Wikipedia
Argonne National Lab Natural Gas Pipelines at Risk by New Madrid Wabash Valley Earthquake Hazard
New Simulations of 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes Show Strong and Prolonged Ground Shaking in Memphis and Little Rock Released: 7/30/2015 2:00:00 PM
”Based on our simulations, were the 1811-1812 earthquakes to repeat today, more than 8 million people living and working near the New Madrid seismic zone would experience potentially damaging ground shaking at modified Mercalli intensities ranging from VI to VIII,” said Leonardo Ramirez-Guzman,…

New Madrid risk USGS
Peak ground-motion variability for a magnitude 7.7 earthquake. Warmer colors indicate stronger ground motions. The stronger ground motions are extended further northeast and southwest caused by the channeling effect of the Reelfoot rift (RFR) The fault is displayed as a thick black continuous straight line, with the epicenter indicated by the triangle.” (See USGS further below)

One of the most dangerous, and often ignored, aspects of nuclear energy is the constant need for backup energy supplies for cooling of nuclear reactors, and spent fuel pools. If there is Station Black Out (SBO) there will be a meltdown, and ultimately a major nuclear accident. In their typical understatement style, the US Nuclear Reg Com states “if an SBO persists for a time beyond the capability of the ac-independent systems to remove decay heat, core melt and containment failure could follow.” A-1, NUREG 1776 In the case of Davis Besse, a tornado, which caused loss of offsite power (LOOP) for a mere 28 hours, could have led to a nuclear disaster: “Had the EDGs [Emergency Diesel Generators] failed to start or run for the first 8 hours of the 28-hour event, the SBO-DG may have been unavailable and this could have led to core damage.” NUREG 1776 , p. F-1 A search within NUREG 1776 and a newer study on LOOP for seismic and earthquake turns up nothing. Thus, they seem to be ignoring LOOP risk for earthquakes. While apparently ignoring the earthquake risk, the newer study by Idaho National Lab points out that “Loss of offsite power (LOOP) can have a major negative impact on a power plant’s ability to achieve and maintain safe shutdown conditions. Risk analyses suggest that loss of all alternating current power contributes over 70% of the overall risk at some U.S. nuclear plants” (INL/EXT-15-34443)

Thus, for the earthquake risk, we turn to the OECD Press Kit, last update Sept. 5, 2014, regarding the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, earthquake and loss of power: “With the loss of onsite and offsite electrical power at Fukushima Daiichi, all the safety systems that started after the earthquake and relied on electrical power to meet their function to protect and cool the fuel in the reactor cores at units 1, 2 and 3 failed. The systems that did not rely on electrical power were available for a short time following the accident. However, they also eventually failed. At that stage, both power supplies and access to the ultimate heat sink for cooling had been lost. When cooling of the reactor cores at units 1, 2 and 3 was lost, significant damage to the nuclear fuel occurred. Core melting was predicted to have begun at unit 1 several hours after the tsunami, at unit 3 on 13 March and at unit 2 on 14 March…

In addition to this reactor core damage, hydrogen generated during the accidents collected within the reactor buildings and caused explosions in the upper portions of the unit 1, 3 and 4 reactor buildings. This meant that the spent fuel pools in these buildings were exposed to the environment and radioactive materials were released. In total, radioactive material was released from four reactor buildings. The ability to add water to the spent fuel pools was also lost and resulted in reduced cooling capacity of the spent fuel pools without, however, damage to the fuel itself.http://www.oecd-nea. org/press/press-kits/fukushima.html

… nuclear reactors – all of them – depend on energy from the grid to operate. Since the core of a reactor continues to generate heat for years, even “off-line,” it is vital that emergency cooling equipment be operable around the clock. As is sensible, every reactor site is equipped with back-up power, most often in the form of diesel generators. Unfortunately these generators, in part because of intermittent use, are not terribly reliable. When both the grid and the back-up power fail, the site is said to be in “station blackout.” According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, station blackout contributes a full one-half of the total risk of a major reactor accident at US nuclear power stations.
http://www.nirs.org/climate/background/climatetalk_mary_un_050306.htm

Excerpts re SAFER AREVA (NOT)

SAFER is comprised of a partnership between Pooled Equipment Inventory Company (PEICo) and AREVA, Inc… SAFER established and maintains two diverse and redundant equipment storage facilities identified as the National SAFER Response Centers (NSRCs). These NSRCs are located in Memphis, TN and Phoenix (Tolleson), AZ. The NSRCs contain portable equipment such as portable generators, portable pumps, hoses, and other supporting equipment (as described in the white paper) to be used by licensees to meet Phase 3 requirements of the order. SAFER has established plans, in part through contracts with Federal Express Custom Critical (FedEx Custom Critical or FCC) and commercial heavy-lift helicopter operators, to allow either one of the NSRCs to provide this equipment to any nuclear power plant in the United States. SAFER has also established two redundant SAFER Control Centers (SCCs) in Lynchburg, VA (primary) and Birmingham, AL (alternate) that will be manned and operated to coordinate the SAFER response for any such event.

In reviewing SAFER’s plans, NRC staff sought reasonable assurance that SAFER is capable of delivering the Phase 3 equipment within the time needed to support the licensees’ Integrated Plans, including delivery to a regional area potentially impacted by the BDBEE.” [BDBEE must mean Beyond Design Basis Emergency Event]
[…]
During the demonstrations, NRC staff noted instances where the SAFER roles and responsibilities were not clear to the licensee… The NRC staff also reviewed an AREVA report titled “Regional Response Center Project: FedEx Memphis – Trip Report.” This report documented transportation of seven flatbed trailers with equipment from the Memphis NSRC to the Memphis Fed Ex hub. This was a timed exercise that tested the response center shipping procedures and was used to 1) validate and optimize packaging configuration for loading the SAFER equipment onto a FedEx plane, and 2) verify and streamline the timing sequence and planning assumptions for the SAFER Response Plans. The report provided details of the timed events and described lessons learned from the operation. Most notably, the report documented that it took 9.5 hours from event initiation to load and prepare the plane for departure. With the longest flight time from either NSRC to the farthest approved destination airport, this would result in a total delivery time to the destination airport of 14 hours, 18 minutes- 18 minutes longer than assumed necessary in the SAFER Response Plans. This is the time determined for delivery to the regional airport near the site and does not include movement to the offsite staging area or delivery to the site

The first tier of the SAFER plan is established through PEICo contracts with commercial heavy-lift helicopter vendors for “first call out of services.” With this type of contract, the vendors are not obligated to support SAFER’s response, and helicopter availability is dependent on the utilization and deployment location of the vendor’s fleet of helicopters at the time the request is made. For this reason, SAFER has contracted with multiple vendors and has committed to maintain and annually update the list of vendors that can provide the needed capability. The NRC staff questioned SAFER regarding the location of the helicopter vendors, number and operating areas of the helicopters, and the likelihood of availability of the contracted helicopters. SAFER provided additional information regarding the location and fleet sizes of five commercial helicopter vendors, with which they have, or are in the process of executing contracts…” [So, they are going to spend all their time calling “vendors” who may refuse them in an emergency if someone else pays more or may not be available. And, so they will count on the State and Federal government to do what SAFER’s supposed to do! In an emergency the State and Federal government might be unavailable.]

The second tier of the SAFER plan is to request State helicopter resources (National Guard or other) via the site’s State emergency response organizations

The third tier of helicopter support is for the site to request Federal helicopter resources” [This all loses precious time and sounds planned to be goofy!]

In summary, while no single helicopter vendor, or any one tier of the SAFER plan for requesting helicopter support is individually assured of providing helicopter resources to support 24-hour delivery time of SAFER equipment, SAFER … approach of having multiple vendors and multiple tiers…
[The State and Federal government’s aren’t vendors! Are they “tiers”?]

[The pumps can’t pump saltwater so they will just put a little note?]
The NRC staff reviewed the ETRD with regard to the design criteria for the HP/LF Pump, SG/RPV Makeup Pump, LP/MF Pump, LP/HF Pump, and the mechanical connections and associated hoses. During its audit, the NRC staff sought clarification from SAFER regarding the ability of the HP/LF pump to take suction from a salt or brackish water source. This pump is constructed of materials suitable for deionized or borated water sources. SAFER stated, and AREVA updated the ETRD (in Revision 11) to notify licensees, that “It is not intended for this pump to be used with salt/brackish water suction source. The unit will pump saltwater and suction strainers are provided[;] however, saltwater has not been evaluated to determine if any performance degradation will occur over time.” By inclusion of this note, licensees are informed of this potential limitation on the use of this equipment and can plan for the limitation in the site-specific Integrated Plans

[AREVA – SAFER expected nuclear sites to supply fuel!]
During its audit, the NRC staff sought clarification from SAFER regarding diesel fuel oil supplies for Phase 3 equipment. Specifically, the staff sought clarification on who would be responsible for providing fuel for Phase 3 equipment and the ability of the Phase 3 equipment to run on a variety of fuel oil sulfur levels (e.g., low-sulfur versus ultra-low-sulfur). SAFER stated that the sites are responsible for all fueling of Phase 2 and Phase 3 equipment. However, if the site is not accessible by land, SAFER will provide a 500-gallon fuel bladder that can be transported by helicopter with fuel. In the case where this fuel transfer would be needed, SAFER would continue to fly fuel into the site from the SAFER offsite staging area as long as needed…http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1426/ML14265A107.pdf

They mention Katrina… Anyone in North America should be alarmed by these and more goofy stupidities.

New Simulations of 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes Show Strong and Prolonged Ground Shaking in Memphis and Little Rock Released: 7/30/2015 2:00:00 PM
Computer simulations of earthquake shaking, replicating the quakes that occurred in 1811-1812 in the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ), indicate that future large earthquakes there would produce major, prolonged ground shaking. The 1811-1812 events were some of the largest in the United States since its settlement by Europeans, and the NMSZ spans portions of seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Scientists from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego State University, AECOM (formerly URS Corporation), and the University of Memphis simulated a set of 20 hypothetical, yet plausible earthquakes located along two currently active faults in the NMSZ. The hypothetical earthquake scenarios range in magnitude from 7.0 to 7.7, and consider various possible epicenters.

”Based on our simulations, were the 1811-1812 earthquakes to repeat today, more than 8 million people living and working near the New Madrid seismic zone would experience potentially damaging ground shaking at modified Mercalli intensities ranging from VI to VIII,” said Leonardo Ramirez-Guzman, lead author of the paper that appears in the July 30 edition of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

“Strong ground shaking in the greater Memphis metropolitan area could last from 30 seconds to more than 60 seconds, depending on the magnitude and epicenter of a potential seismic event,” said Ramirez-Guzman, a professor at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and former USGS contract scientist.

The simulations also demonstrate the importance of fault rupture directivity (seismic energy focused along the direction of faulting), especially when combined with the wave channeling effects of the Reelfoot rift, a buried, northeast-southwest trending geologic valley in the NMSZ. In particular, future large earthquakes on the approximately 80-mile long NMSZ fault show strong shaking at vibration frequencies that pose a risk for mid-rise to high-rise buildings and tall bridges. This fault is thought to be responsible for the December 16, 1811 magnitude 7-7.7 earthquake. Some of the earthquake simulations showed strong shaking focused to the northeast as far as 100-200 miles away near Paducah, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana, and to the southwest 150 miles toward Little Rock, Arkansas. An example of this earthquake shaking focusing effect can be seen here. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/cus_seisvelmodel/M7.7simulation.php

While it’s not possible to know which direction a fault will rupture once an earthquake starts, knowing that there is an increased chance of strong shaking along these geologically-defined corridors is a valuable aid in better characterizing seismic hazard and minimizing earthquake risk.

Earthquakes pose a significant risk to nearly 150 million Americans. The USGS and its partners in the multi-agency National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program are working to improve earthquake monitoring and reporting capabilities via the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS). More information about ANSS can be found on the ANSS website.
http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4284#.Vdm3On8aySM
(Important links embedded at the original.)

Emphasis was added throughout.

Notes and References

More on Davis Besse tornado incident, which caused loss of offsite power (LOOP) for a mere 28 hours: “Davis-Besse LER 346/98-006 June 24, 1998 Tornado and near SBO event ASP Report for LER 346/98-006 February 1999 A tornado damaged the Davis-Besse switchyard and caused a LOOP for approximately 28 hours (1690 minutes). The EDGs were both manually started upon report of a tornado; however, one EDG failed to start from the control room and was successfully started locally. During the event, one EDG was technically inoperable because the tornado damaged a roof mounted room cooling and resulted in slightly elevated room temperatures. The tornado caused significant damage to the Ottawa County electrical distribution system, making 40 percent of the sirens inoperable. There were several equipment malfunctions that were either successfully addressed by operations or negligible. /. Post-event analysis as part of the ASP Program identified that when the SBO-DG is in standby, a nonessential bus supplies power to the SBO-DG. If the nonessential bus is not powered, then the batteries will deplete in approximately 20 hours. Had the EDGs failed to start or run for the first 8 hours of the 28-hour event, the SBO-DG may have been unavailable and this could have led to core damage.” (p. F-1) NUREG 1776 http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0324/ML032450542.pdf
EDG – Emergency Diesel Generator

White Paper on SAFER: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1425/ML14259A223.pdf

Analysis of Loss-of-Offsite-Power Events 1998–2013” by John A. Schroeder, February 2015, INL/EXT-15-34443,
http://nrcoe.inel.gov/resultsdb/publicdocs/LOSP/loop-summary-update-2013.pdf

OECD is funded by its member countries. National contributions are based on a formula which takes account of the size of each member’s economy. The largest contributor is the United States, which provides nearly 21% of the budget, followed by Japan.
http://www.oecd. org/about/budget/

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4284#.Vdm3On8aySM

WHAT IS PEICo? The Pooled Inventory Management Program, or PIM and PEICo (Pooled Equipment Inventory Co) sounds like it corresponds to a legitimate need and the member nuclear power stations can be found on a map on their web site. It seems to include over 30 nuclear power stations, including the US government owned (TVA) ones (Watts Bar, Sequoyah, and Browns Ferry). It was founded to deal with equipment and inventory problems. So, while PEICo sounds really fishy they seem like they respond to a legitimate need:
In late 2011, the industry committed to establish the needed off-site capabilities to support FLEX Phase 3 capability. The industry developed a request for proposal and selected the Strategic Alliance for FLEX Emergency Response (SAFER) team. The industry selected the SAFER Team, consisting of Pooled Equipment Inventory Company (PEICo) and AREVA Inc., to provide the FLEX Phase 3 management and deployment plans through contractual agreements with every nuclear operating company in the United States. All licensees relying on SAFER and the National SAFER Response Centers (NSRCs) have executed contractual agreements with PEICo that allows for the offsite capability discussed herein. PEICo is a membership corporation with no owners, registered in the state of Delaware with a President, who is also PEICo’s legal counsel. By contract, the Program Manager Organization (PMO) acts as an agent of PEICo for designated activities. The PMO manages the nuclear industry sponsored, joint inventory storage and maintenance facility for capital spares (referred to collectively as Pooled Inventory Management or “PIM”). PEICo established an Engineering and Procurement Services (EPS) contract with AREVA to perform equipment procurement support, engineering, project management, and field team support activities for the NSRCs. The relationship between the industry, PEICo and AREVA is shown in Figure 1. PEICo is the single entity through which the SAFER program is ensured.

PEICo’s experience in the nuclear industry includes 30 years of supporting emergent needs of the industry through acquisition, long term storage, maintenance, and expedited shipping of critical components. Prior to selection in support of FLEX, half of the nuclear utilities were already participating in the PIM program. Additionally PEICo maintains a 10 CFR 50, Appendix B quality assurance program.http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1425/ML14259A223.pdf

About Potential New Madrid Gas Pipeline Damage
“ƒIn general, experts agree that UGS within 100 miles of the quake’s epicenter may be at risk of some damage, depending on the intensity of the quake and the direction of the seismic wave
[…]
ƒAccording to seismologists, only the top 50 ft of soil is subject to liquefaction, meaning that little damage is expected to occur to subsurface UGS fields because the typical depth of sandstone and rock is 1,000–2,000 ft
“, from
New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Study: Assessing the Impacts on Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines and Downstream Markets by Using “NGFast”
Presented by: Edgar Portante, Steve Folga, Shabbir Shamsuddin, Michael McLamore, Leah Talaber, Vic Hammond, Jim Kavicky, and Brian Craig Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL USA February 24, 2009 Prepared for: FEMA Region V New Madrid Seismic Zone Planning Workshop Indianapolis, IN Work sponsored by FEMA Region V Disaster Operations Division, Chicago, IL USA. http://showme. net/~fkeller/quake/images3/gas-argonne-pipeline.pdf