Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On Vermont Yankee and States’ Rights

Over at the ANS Nuclear Cafe, Meredith Angwin who blogs at Yes Vermont Yankee, makes the case for why the NRC has jurisdiction over nuclear plants:

Watching the POP [Vermont Public Oversight Panel] at work, it was clear to me why the NRC has jurisdiction, and why nuclear regulation cannot be a state privilege. Nuclear energy cannot be regulated by a group of people who may be eager to please their legislative employers. There needs to be objective criteria, assessed by full-time experts, in order to keep a plant working well.

Having the internal workings of the plant doubly-assessed, by a group of people chosen politically, could get in the way of plant operations. It could even possibly degrade safety. Part-time inspectors with political agendas? This is not the same as having the Occupational Safety and Health Administration come to the plant. Trained OSHA inspectors go to many industrial facilities.

The NRC catches a lot of guff in the nuclear industry: The NRC is slow to act. The NRC is an expensive, overgrown bureaucracy. The NRC is headed by political appointees.

But still, down in the trenches at the inspection level, the NRC knows what it is doing. The inspectors are trained and professional. They don’t have political agendas. They won’t accept a cup of coffee from the people they are inspecting.

After watching the POP activities, it is clear to me that nuclear regulation is the business of the federal government. The Atomic Energy Act was the precursor of the NRC, and kept the nuclear safety regulation at the federal level of the government. That is how it must remain.

Thank you, NRC, for your day-to-day professionalism.

Hope ANS didn’t mind us copying many of the good parts, though there is still plenty left for others to check out.

1 comment:

Meredith Angwin said...

David, thanks for the good words and the link!
Meredith