Tag Archives: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

As Nuclear Reactors Age, Funds to Close Them Lag – NYTimes.com

22 Mar

Shutting down nuclear plants is very expensive, even more expensive than building them in the first place. It’s not a simple matter of turning off the switch. You do that, and then you have to dismantle the plant and haul the nuclear waste away. Once you’ve done that, the land can be returned to productive use. If you don’t properly dismantle, then the land is useless and the radioactive waste is still dangerous.

In effect, these plants are Too Big To Be Turned Off. And they’re Too Dangerous to Operate. Seems to me we’re living Too Big to Be Responsible.

Entergy is at least $90 million short of the projected $560 million cost of dismantling Vermont Yankee; the company is at least $500 million short of the $1.5 billion estimated cost of dismantling Indian Point 2 and 3.

The shortfall raises the possibility that Vermont could tend one sleeping reactor for decades while New York oversees three; Unit 1 , another reactor at Indian Point, shut down in 1974 and has yet to be dismantled.

Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman is uneasy about the prospect of a 60-year wait.

“These facilities should be cleaned up, and their footprints reduced as much as possible so that these areas can be returned to other productive uses within the community,” the chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, said recently.

Gil C. Quiniones, the president and chief executive of the New York Power Authority, a state utility that sold Indian Point 3 to Entergy in 2000, called Entergy’s failure to plan for or finance the decommissioning of Indian Point in real time “stunningly irresponsible.”

via As Nuclear Reactors Age, Funds to Close Them Lag – NYTimes.com.

Reform the N.R.C. – NYTimes.com

12 Mar

Like many regulatory agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is held captive by the industry it’s supposed to regulate.

…the Fukushima meltdowns, which were set off by an earthquake-triggered tsunami, raised questions about the vulnerability of America’s reactors to earthquakes. Indian Point, for example, is built above and near a series of faults. But the commission refused to do a full risk assessment and refused to consider earthquake damage as part of relicensing, announcing that “this is really not a serious concern.”

While such health and safety dangers from reactors are real, perhaps an even greater danger is the on-site storage of spent fuel, which is thousands of times more toxic than the uranium put into the reactor. While the reactor is surrounded by a concrete containment vessel, the commission allows spent fuel to be kept in a large, aboveground and unprotected pool of water.

The pools have been known to leak, and they are vulnerable to fire and terrorist attack. Fukushima presented an opportunity to address this lingering threat, and yet the commission once again failed to act.

How do we regulate the regulators?

There is a real need to reform the commission, whether one supports or opposes nuclear power. We need a fast-track, independent review of exemptions and the resulting weakened safety standards; we also need a similarly independent, rigorous inquiry into the commission and its ties to the nuclear industry.

Beyond reviews, Congress should create new, stricter requirements for action by the commission, including stronger rules against exemptions from safety and health regulations.

via Reform the N.R.C. – NYTimes.com.