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CRS Report for CongressPrepared for Members and Committees of CongressNuclear Power Plant Design and SeismicSafety Considerations

CRS Report for CongressPrepared for Members and Committees of CongressNuclear Power Plant Design and SeismicSafety Considerations

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Published by forumonenergy
In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Six months later an earthquake along the East Coast of the United States briefly shut down a power plant in North Anna, Virginia. The two events caused lawmakers in both countries to inquire about the seismic criteria and design of commercial power plants.

The attached Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, reproduced as a public service by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), explains the seismic criteria applied to siting and designing U.S. commercial power plants.
In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Six months later an earthquake along the East Coast of the United States briefly shut down a power plant in North Anna, Virginia. The two events caused lawmakers in both countries to inquire about the seismic criteria and design of commercial power plants.

The attached Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, reproduced as a public service by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), explains the seismic criteria applied to siting and designing U.S. commercial power plants.

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Published by: forumonenergy on Jun 13, 2013
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07/23/2015

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Only General Electric boiling water reactors operate in the United States (Table 1). BWRs are
inherently simpler designs than other light water reactor types. Since they heat water and generate
steam directly inside the reactor vessel, they have fewer components than pressurized water
reactors. The original BWR design-types have been decommissioned, but Type 2 through Type 6
BWRs continue to operate. Some of the BWR evolutionary design features are summarized in
Table 2. Along with the evolution in BWR reactor design, containment structure designs have
also evolved (Figure 3, Figure 4, and Figure 5).

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During the sustained chain reaction in an operating reactor, the U-235 splits into highly radioactive fission products,
while the U-238 is partially converted to plutonium-239 by neutron capture, some of which also fissions. Further
neutron capture creates other radioactive elements. The process of radioactive decay transforms an atom to a more
stable element through the release of radiation—alpha particles (two protons and two neutrons), charged beta particles
(positive or negative electrons), or gamma rays (electromagnetic radiation).

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The NRC regulates the design, construction, and operation requirements of the ECCS under 10 CFR50.46,
“Acceptance criteria for emergency core cooling systems for light-water nuclear reactors”; Appendix K to 10 CFR 50,
“ECCS Evaluation Models”; and Appendix A to 10 CFR 50, “General Design Criteria [GDC] for Nuclear Power
Plants” (e.g., GDC 35, “Emergency Core Cooling”).

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N.C. Chokshi, S.K. Shaukat, and A.L. Hiser, et al., Seismic Considerations for the Transition Break Size, U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NUREG 1903, Brookhaven National Laboratory, February 2008.

Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations

Congressional Research Service

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