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NRC ATTEMPTING TO REDEFINE PURPOSE OF NUCLEAR REGULATION?
PROPOSED NEW STRATEGY PAPER SAYS AGENCY'S REGULATORY RESPONSIBILITY EXISTS TO 'ENABLE' USE OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS
YOUR COMMENTS DUE BY WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Some people just don't get it....
You'd think in the post-Fukushima era of vastly increased public concern over nuclear power safety, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission might be a wee bit sensitive to its responsibility to regulate nuclear power.
You'd think at a time when hundreds of Occupy encampments across the country are bringing new attention to the ways large corporations--too often with government support--put their profits above the public's interest, that the NRC might be a little careful about placing the interests of nuclear utilities at the head of the line.
But in a little-noticed Strategic Planning document released for public comment, the NRC shows its tone-deafness to public concern and outrage.
On the very first page of this new plan (page 5 of the document, which can be downloaded here), the following paragraph appears:
Principles of Good Regulation
The safe and secure use of radioactive materials and nuclear fuels for beneficial civilian purposes is enabled by the agency's adherence to the following principles of good regulation: independence, openness, efficiency, clarity, and reliability. In addition, regulatory actions are effective, realistic, and timely.
Nowhere in any of its statutory documents (and we've checked) does it say that the purpose of NRC regulation is to "enable" the use of radioactive materials and nuclear fuels.
This is more than just semantics: if the purpose of NRC regulation is to enable use of nuclear power, then how could the agency ever shut down a nuclear reactor, no matter how dangerous it might be? And given this language, if the NRC ever did try to do that, would a utility be able to sue the agency for preventing, rather than enabling, a reactor's operation?
Your comments on this strategic plan are due by the end of the day Wednesday, November 2, 2011. Please send your comments in here.
In 1974, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was disbanded by Congress, because it had the dual and conflicting mission of both promoting and regulating nuclear power. It's not possible to do both.
The promotional side of the AEC was moved to the Energy Research and Development Administration (which later became the Department of Energy). The NRC was created to fulfill the regulatory mission.
Over the years, of course, the NRC has been frequently and justifiably criticized for being too cozy with the nuclear industry; for being the agency where Nobody Really Cares; for working with the industry against the interests of the public.
And we believe that if the NRC were really serious about regulating for the protection of public health and safety, it would be closing down nuclear reactors and other atomic facilities. After Fukushima, for example, how much more proof does anyone need that GE Mark I reactors in particular pose an enormous danger to everyone who lives around them? Not to mention reactors in seismic areas, reactors with full fuel pools, and so forth (insert the problems with your local reactor here...).
But saying that the purpose of nuclear regulation is to enable use of radioactive materials and nuclear fuel is a step over the line, one that makes clear the NRC not only doesn't understand the public's anger, but has itself become indistinguishable from the nuclear industry.
Big changes are needed. And the first step is to express your anger to the NRC here (your comments will also go to your Congressional members).
Just as Occupy Wall Street is changing the tenor of the debate in the U.S. over stark issues like income inequality and the role of the 1%; so do we need to change the tenor of the debate on nuclear issues--away from what government can do for nuclear utilities and toward a new emphasis on public health and safety; indeed, away from nuclear power and toward a nuclear-free carbon-free energy system.
An NRC strategic plan may seem like a small issue, but by vastly overstepping its bounds, the NRC has given us the opportunity to begin to change that debate. Let's make sure they hear from all of us!
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Please donate as generously as you can here or after you send your comments, or please send a donation to NIRS, 6930 Carroll Avenue, #340, Takoma Park, MD 20912. You can also donate with a credit card by phone at 301-270-6477. You will earn our gratitude, but more importantly you'll help ensure the boldest possible opposition to the nuclear power industry. Thank you!
Thanks for all you do,
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
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