Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Study: U.S. Atomic Plants Aren't Prepared to Withstand Disaster
Existing rules for U.S. nuclear reactor safety are insufficient for minimizing the risk of a meltdown caused by an outside event, a new report says.
The hotly anticipated report, published Thursday by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, examined how prepared U.S. nuclear energy sites were to respond to a catastrophe on the level of the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdown, which was caused by a tsunami. The study concluded that while U.S. atomic safety regulations focus on limiting the fallout from an internal incident, such as a machinery malfunction or loss of power, they do not do enough to safeguard against a meltdown sparked by natural disaster, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The NAS report said it was crucial for U.S. nuclear regulators to prioritize public safety, and that reactor operators should be held to the highest level of safety standards.
"Adequate funding and highly competent staff are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for regulatory independence," the study states. "It also requires strong leadership that maintains a laser focus on safety and does not allow itself to become distracted by outside pressures."
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently has been accused by activists of unfairly dismissing safety concerns when it decided against ordering reactor operators to accelerate the transfer of spent fuel rods into dry cask storage. Activists contend that quick action is needed to move the used nuclear material out of above-ground pools into a more secure storage setting to minimize the likelihood of a radiation escape following a feared natural disaster or terrorist strike.
Commission officials said they were examining the NAS report and would respond to its findings later.
Note to our Readers
GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.
June 26, 2015
This paper calls for the creation of regional HEU-Free Zones, whereby countries may not possess or allow for the transfer of HEU within their territory.
June 11, 2015
U.S. government officials have been sharing information on the International Partnership for Disarmament Verification, an initiative of the U.S. State Department and NTI.
This article provides an overview of the United States’ historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.