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INADEQUATE FEDERAL OVERSIGHT OF NUCLEAR INDUSTRY
NRC Lapdog or Watchdog?

 

DO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES REALLY PROTECT US?


Cartoon by Bill Sanders, Field Newspaper Syndicate, reprinted from Irrevy by John Gofman, Committee for Nuclear Responsibility

 

 

U.S. Nuclear Plants in the 21st Century:
The Risk of a Lifetime, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2004
David Lochbaum, UCS


Today’s aging reactors, and any reactors granted 20-year extensions to their current 40-year operating licenses, face the high-risk wear-out segment of the bathtub curve. Despite efforts to monitor the condition of aging equipment, there are recent age-related failures caused by monitoring the right areas using the wrong techniques and by monitoring the wrong areas using the right techniques. In addition, nuclear plants seeking license renewal conform not to today’s safety standards, but to a unique assortment of regulations dating back nearly 40 years with countless exemptions, deviations, and waivers granted along the way.

While the risks and reasons for the risks vary along the bathtub curve, the consequences of failing to manage the risks remain nearly constant—potentially massive releases of radioactivity into the atmosphere with devastating harm to people and places downwind.

An aggressive regulator consistently enforcing federal safety regulations provides the best protection against these risks. Sadly, America lacks such protection. Since UCS began its nuclear safety project nearly three decades ago, we have engaged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, countless times. We advocated enforcement of existing regulations far more often than for adoption of new regulations. Regulations might provide adequate protection, but only when they are followed. By failing to consistently enforce the regulations, the NRC exposes millions of Americans to greater risk than necessary. The federal government must reform the NRC into a consistently effective regulator so it properly manages the risk at all points along the nuclear bathtub curve.
Read the executive summary

 

 

Contents

Oversight Authority More

Problems with NRC Oversight More

Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Nuclear Plants in the 21st Century: The Risk of a Lifetime (pdf file) Get Adobe Acrobat Reader


 

 

 

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