CHICAGO– Two Better Government Association (BGA) reports on nuclear safety a year in the making document the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) systematic pattern of disregard for assertive and responsible regulation, and co-optation by the industry it is charged to regulate, asserts Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), a Chicago-based safe-energy, nuclear power watchdog organization.
“These BGA reports document and confirm contentions NEIS has made for decades to Illinois state and federal officials and elected representatives,” notes David A. Kraft, director of NEIS. “In particular, NEIS raised these concerns with over 40 state officials and legislators we talked to during the past three years leading up to the Exelon nuclear bailout of 2016, only to be met with a thunderous round of indifference,” Kraft continued.
The two BGA reports are the second and third installments of a BGA series on nuclear power issues in Illinois. The first appeared on November 17, 2017, and demonstrated NRC’s indifference to chronic radioactive leaks at nuclear power reactors in Illinois and nationally. The current installments describe a chronic pattern of NRC indifference to regulation, capitulation to nuclear industry – in Illinois, read EXELON – demands, and agency intimidation of whistle-blowers.
“When the chief regulatory agency in the nation develops an allergy to regulation, the notion of ‘nuclear safety’ is reduced to a fiction existing only on paper,” asserts Kraft. “In short, because of this abdication of regulatory responsibility, and compounded by the 2016 Exelon bailouts, Illinois is now left flying naked on nuclear safety for the next decade,” Kraft observes.
With “nuclear bailout mania” sweeping the country to prop up old, uneconomic nuclear reactors that would otherwise close, coupled with an indifferent or complicit NRC’s pre-emptive authority over the states on nuclear safety matters, the public is left totally undefended against nuclear power mishaps, accidents and catastrophes as long as these reactors continue to operate.
“NEIS is sending an open letter to the Illinois delegation to Congress, and to members of Illinois State Government – as well as candidates for Governor — demanding reform of this untenable situation,” Kraft states. “In particular, states like Illinois with operating nuclear plants have an immediate and vested interest in forcing their delegations to Congress to enact massive reforms of the NRC at the very least; and granting states the binding authority to set safety standards higher than those of the NRC at best, “ Kraft urges.
While urging Congressional and Illinois state legislative action in its letter, NEIS also warns, “we feel that the potential for reducing Illinois to the status of “Belarus of the Midwest” via nuclear accident now calls for [immediate action]. We have politely asked for reform for three decades; the BGA reports (and last year’s Exelon nuclear giveaway) indicate that things have only gotten worse.
“Silence is tacit approval, if not complicity. Given that all parties are now informed of the problem, and in a most public manner, backed up by credible witnesses, any future indulgence of NRC’s or any other agency’s lax enforcement of nuclear safety makes all now-informed parties complicit and personally responsible for any future harm resulting from nuclear incidents and accidents in Illinois.”
2018 is an election year. Nuclear safety reform should be an important issue in the most nuclear-reliant state in the nation, NEIS contends.
“NEIS intends to hold such parties publicly accountable for Illinois nuclear safety moving forward by all legal means available,” the letter concludes.
Exelon operates 11 reactors in Illinois, and owns three that are permanently closed. If it were a nation, it would be the 11th largest nuclear power in the world. The four oldest reactors at Dresden and Quad Cities – mentioned often in the BGA reports — are the same design and older than the four reactors that melted down and exploded at Fukushima, Japan.
LINKS TO THE BGA REPORTS OF DEC. 20, 2017:
LINK TO THE NOVEMBER 17, 2017 BGA REPORT: