Skip to main content

NRC Throws a Punch in Massachusetts

MA.State.House.iStock_000000831934Small The Nuclear Regulatory Commission tends to float a bit above the political fray - you could say it sticks to its knitting, keeps it head down, insert additional cliche here - so it's a genuine surprise that it has made salient comments - any comments at all - about state legislation that blasts nuclear energy.

But that's what happened in Massachusetts:

In July, the Bay State's House passed a resolution in support of efforts to have independent safety assessments conducted at nuclear power plants in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire [we don't know how Vermont and New Hampshire feel about this, but knowing New Englanders, probably snorts all around].

Then there's this:

The Legislature also resolved that it's time the nation begin its transition "away from nuclear power to an affordable, clean and sustainable national energy policy."

And what has inflamed the pawk the caw types?

The resolution had several bullet points that were of concern to the House of Representatives. Those included were accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and an earthquake that affected nuclear reactors in Japan.

TMI? Chernobyl? How, uh, 1990 of them. And thus does the NRC put things into better perspective:

"I understand the concerns raised by the Commonwealth," wrote Samuel J. Collins, an NRC regional administrator, in response to the resolution. "However, I feel it is necessary to address some of the statements and assumptions conveyed in that document to dispel any misconceptions you may have with our regulatory role, performance, or processes."

We won't go over all of that here, because you know what Collins is going to say,though by all means read through the story - Collins responds to everything in a measured fashion and proves himself an excellent spokesman.

What's notable here is that the NRC has not let this legislative mischief go without comment. The implication of their response is that while issues around nuclear energy should be fully discussed, and that men and women of good will will have variant viewpoints, one must still start with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions and good legislation.

We'd guess that Massachusetts lawmakers are up to some election year politicking and pushing some go-to fear buttons rather heedlessly. Wonderful to see the NRC throw the warm water of facts into the gummy mix.

Picture of the Massachusetts State House.

Comments

Bill said…
Mark Flanagan: "- so it's a genuine surprise that [the Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has made salient comments - any comments at all - about state legislation that blasts nuclear energy."
and
"What's notable here is that the NRC has not let this legislative mischief go without comment."

Am I being unduly cynical to think that the NRC is responding, not so much to defend nuclear energy, but to defend the *NRC*?

"That ISA was a unique, one-time inspection in response to a specific set of concerns," wrote Collins. "The NRC's Reactor Oversight Process, implemented in 2000, incorporates nearly all of the key inspection elements addressed in the Maine Yankee ISA. The Commission remains convinced that the oversight process is more effective than an ISA because it is a continual assessment process and it provides for increased oversight of plants and programs that exhibit declining performance."
Anonymous said…
If you have time (lots of time), take a look at the comments posted to the newspaper article.
Joffan said…
The NRC defending the NRC is good enough. The example of Vermont Yankee's license renewal is an example of past failure to do so, where (apparently) three different bodies are all covering the same ground, wasting the time and effort on both sides that could be used more productively. ISAs are a similar waste of time - they appear to stem from the conspiracy theory that the NRC are not independent of the reactor operators.
Anonymous said…
The Maine Yankee ISA was performed at the request of the governor - who caught wind of the allegation that Yankee Atomic had been "cheating" on their SB LOCA analysis for the plant. As far as I know, the ISA did conclude that the allegation was correct. Industry behavior like that fans the flames of the conspiracy theorists, and it's hard to blame them in cases like that.

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…