Design flaw found in nearly all U.S. nuclear plants

Yeah, so, nobody can seem to get it right to build a safe nuclear plant. But next time we'll get it right! Build more!

CORRECTED-U.S. NRC engineers urge fix for nuclear power stations (Reuters)

A group of engineers within the U.S. nuclear power regulator is concerned that a design flaw in nearly all U.S. nuclear plants could endanger emergency core cooling systems. The group has urged the regulator to order power station operators to either fix the problem or face mandatory shutdowns.

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The engineers are concerned that a design flaw in nearly all U.S. nuclear facilities leaves them vulnerable to so-called open phase events in which an unbalanced voltage, such as an electrical short, could cause motors to burn out and reduce the ability of a reactor's emergency cooling system to function. If the motors are burned out, backup electricity systems would be of little help, the petition said.

In early 2012 an unbalanced voltage event forced Exelon Corp's Byron 2 reactor in Illinois to shut down automatically....

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Dave Lochbaum, a nuclear expert at nonprofit group the Union of Concerned Scientists, said it was encouraging that the engineers stepped forward without fear of retribution. But he said those concerns show "something is not right with the safety culture at the agency." The NRC could have eased concerns years ago by forcing plants to take action, he said.

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The nuclear industry played down the petition.

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