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Nuclear Regulatory Commission Discovers counterfeit components

Anyone who has ever been tricked by counterfeit sellers need not necessarily question their own judgment. Inferior copies have been discovered even in extremely critical facilities such as nuclear power plants. According to a recent report by the Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), this will affect at least some of the plants in the US.

The components in question “bring nuclear safety and security issues that could have serious consequences,” the report said. The inspector general launched an investigation after his agency received several reports from whistleblowers that “most, if not all” U.S. nuclear power plants are equipped with counterfeit components. In addition, last year independent investigations by the US Department of Energy revealed about 100 cases where nuclear power plant operators relied on counterfeit or replica components to save money.

Risks increase

The problems of the counterfeit products were also immediately visible in practice: one case involved an emergency water pump shaft that broke shortly after installation. At another power plant in the northeast, temperature monitoring equipment in “safety-sensitive areas” used to detect steam pipe breaks suddenly went out. Prior to this failure, some of the equipment had been repaired with defective parts.

The NRC warned that the use of cheap copies could continue to increase in the foreseeable future and that controls should therefore be focused more on this issue. Because such uncertified components can behave unpredictably in an emergency situation, which is of course a huge problem given the risks of an accident in a nuclear power plant. One reason for this is the increasing financial pressure on the operators of nuclear power plants. This is because it is the most expensive form of electricity production. And year by year, ever-expanding regenerative resources are pushing down wholesale prices on power exchanges, making expensive nuclear power increasingly difficult to sell.