US nuclear reactors contain ‘fake’ parts, watchdog finds — Analysis

The investigation followed whistleblower allegations about the use of counterfeit items in ‘most, if not all’ plants

An unspecified number of US nuclear power plants contain counterfeit parts that could potentially lead to “serious” safety risks, an investigation by the federal nuclear industry watchdog has found. According to the new report, more than 100 counterfeit parts were flagged by Energy Department (DOE). “incidents”Last year there was a lot of counterfeit parts in reactors.

The probe, conducted by the inspector general’s office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was launched after unnamed whistleblowers alleged that “most, if not all” nuclear plants in the US used ‘counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items’ (CFSI). These are parts that have been fabricated. “altered to imitate a legitimate product,” “misrepresented with intent to deceive,”Or which “do not meet intended product specifications.”

Four plants were sampled by investigators. One of the Midwest’s CFSI-using plants was found to be the one that they discovered. There were two components that failed in plants located in Northeastern, but these failures weren’t uncovered by investigators. This is a “well-placed NRC principal”The watchdog was informed by plant operators that the incidents were caused by fake parts.

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A shaft for an emergency water pump was the first component to fail. “snapped”Soon after installation. Temperature monitoring instruments were installed at another Northeast plant. “safety-related areas”Had been “prematurely” failing “at a significantly increased rate.”Later, it was discovered that certain instruments were actually missing. “repaired using defective parts”Prior to failure

While it did not prove the NRC had lowered its oversight standards, the report warned that the agency’s lack of a reliable reporting system to track such failures suggested it might be underestimating just how prevalent CFSI use is.

It was noted that CFSI reporting is only mandatory for plant operators if they are involved in an accident. “extraordinary circumstances,”This includes the shutdown emergency of a reactor. They also stated that all CFSI claims had not been fully investigated by NRC investigators.

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Noting that the NRC’s operations leadership had begun “thoroughly reviewing”Scott Burnell, spokesperson for the agency, told Reuters of his findings. “nothing in the report suggests an immediate safety concern.”But, investigators were clear about “safety and security concerns that could have serious consequences.”

The report was published ahead of the DOE’s call on Friday for public input on a $6 billion program to preserve aging nuclear reactors, funded by the Biden administration’s trillion-dollar infrastructure law.

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