Since the Fukushima catastrophe the US nuclear industry has cautioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move cautiously on new regulations. After all, says the industry’s chief lobbying group, the Nuclear Energy Institute, all the facts aren’t known so how can the NRC be sure that new regulations – such as installing reliable hardened vents in BWRs (like the ones at Fukushima) — will be really necessary? But moving too slowly risks doing nothing at all, as Ed Lyman, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, has repeatedly pointed out. This was particularly true after 9/11 when proposed security-related nuclear regulations were watered down to the point of being rendered ineffective. As I wrote in an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor today, the NRC should learn from that experience and act decisively on recommendations for new safety regulations from an NRC post-Fukushima task force. There is a real risk that the agency will again be dragged through years and years of debate over minor details by an industry determined to avoid new regulations at any cost. It’s a tactical maneuver that puts all of us at risk, particularly all of us living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. So tweet and email about jobs, but don’t forget about nuclear safety!
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