As a courtesy to our friends and colleagues at Beyond Nuclear, we forward the attached press release. It announces a decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the federal agency charged with protecting the public from the radiation threat from nuclear power plants, to ignore its staff advice and NOT install safety filters on reactors similar in design to those that blew up and melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011.
Illinois has four such reactors (Dresden 2 & 3, 50 miles southwest of Chicago; and Quad Cities 1 & 2 near Cordova on the Mississippi River) of the same design, yet older than their Japanese counterparts. Two other reactors (LaSalle 1 & 2, 65 miles southwest of Chicago near Starved Rock) are similar in design, but newer. This anti-safety decision comes at a controversial time for Exelon’s Illinois nuclear reactors, five of which it claims are unprofitable. Businesses usually try to regain profitability by reducing costs, which in the case of nuclear reactors, could have additional adverse safety implications.
NEIS was a co-petitioner to this NRC docket, and gave testimony twice in the proceeding. As the release points out, the filter and vent system we advocated has been mandated for these GE reactors in Europe and in Japan, and the NRC staff recommended that their construction would be a cost-effective safety measure. Yet, the now 4 person Commission rejected this professional advice, and listened to the profit driven arguments of the nuclear industry which opposed these safety installations.
This decision is emblematic of the NRC’s consistent pattern of deferring to the financial interests of the nuclear industry over the legitimate safety concerns of the public. It has long been known that the NRC is a “captive agency” of the industry it is alleged to be regulating; this and many similar rulings reinforce the public’s perception that “NRC” stands for “not really concerned.” Perhaps the only thing remarkable about this anti-safety decision is that the Agency stretched out its venal and disingenuous incompetence for four years before announcing its ruling.
Feel free to contact Beyond Nuclear directly for more information.